Vernon and North Okanagan
Sep 9, 2012 / 3:00 pm
For a group of dedicated volunteers, it was well worth the effort to dig in and get wet.
13 volunteers waded into Middle Vernon Creek on Saturday to clear the stream from a large build up of junk and debris.
Group spokesman Rick Simpson says the 2012 debris jam and beaver dam clearing for fish passage was necessitated by an unusually ferocious freshet this year, which stripped the banks, stream bed and huge swaths of the riparian zone on either side of the creek.
This led to severe bank erosion, flooding, tree falling, stream bed movement and property loss to several stream-side residents.
It also created a number of impassable debris jams at choke points or build-up points which had to be either removed or made "fish passable," mostly by hand, but in some places with mechanical aid.
In one section the debris jam clearing was more intense, in order to make it safe to be walked at night by fisheries techs who are required to count spawning Kokanee as part of the Kokanee counting fence work at Remeiche Road bridge.
By the time the crew was done, a large beaver dam was lowered and a chain saw was employed to remove several substantial obstacles to fish passage between the pedestrian bridge and the senior's centre.
Workers also cleared the section from the pedestrian bridge to the McCarthy orchard.
Some of the items removed by the 13 volunteers, beside debris jams, included all sorts of plastic bags and bottles, truck tires, a bicycle embedded in the stream bed, a golf bag carrier, and other litter and garbage in the stream and in the riparian area.
The amount of garbage dumped over the banks was described as "a sobering eye opener."
It also turned out to be a tough day for volunteer Danny Coyle, who encountered a wasp nest and was bitten numerous times.
He was treated at a nearby clinic and had to go home to bed after a powerful epinephrine dose.
The end result of Saturday's effort is those sections of the creek are now clear and safe for fish passage.
Organizers say a small section from the large beaver dam to the confluence of Knopf Brook and Middle Valley Creek remains to be walked and cleared for fish passage.
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