Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Clear the Coast: getting more for your money!

October 2, 2017

Clear the Coast innovated again this year, always trying to do more with a budget that just keeps shrinking. With the generous help of Cape Scott Water Taxi and park operators 43K Wilderness Solutions, we placed debris collection bags at stations on the Cape Scott and North Coast trails and invited hikers to “Pitch In”.

The response was amazing:  trail users filled 34 bags along the north coast alone!  Our other, organized trips throughout the summer collected the balance of an estimated 10 tonnes of material at beaches along the West coast of the Island, from Grant Bay up to Cape Scott.

Summer student Maggie Dietterle led expeditions to the southern, road-accessible beaches and engaged dozens of friends, family and park users at Grant Bay, Hecht Beach, Raft Cove and Cape Palmerston.

Project Manager Rob O’Dea joined Maggie and two volunteers for a gruelling trip to Christensen Beach on the North Island trail, which we’d never cleaned before.  We thought we were overdoing it to send out 12 collection bags for the effort but, no; Rob says they could have filled twice that number. Faced with a shortage of bags and a very long hike out to the San Jo Bay parking lot, they called it quits at 12 bags (roughly 40 cubic feet) and seven long strings of buoys and larger items.

Executive Director Karen Wristen led the team that placed collection bags at other stations on the North Coast and Cape Scott trails in July. She returned by boat in August with partner Jasper and long-time volunteers Terry and Eric Grantner and Jodie Bergeron to Sea Otter Cove and Lowrie and San Josef Bays.  Read Karen’s blog on how that all turned out [here].

On the Labour Day weekend, we worked with the team at 43K Wilderness Solutions and West Coast Helicopters to get all that material off the beaches, and all in the space of two days!  We managed that by calling on volunteers both new and old to go out to all of our caches and make them ready for lifting.  The founder of our Clear the Coast campaign, Will Soltau, emerged from retirement in Sointula to help hook up bags at Grant Bay; and a team from the clothing retailer Lifestyle Over Luxury chose Raft Cove for their volunteer contribution.

By spreading our staff resources more thinly and relying on our seasoned volunteers, new recruits and the kindness of strangers, we covered more ground and restored more habitat than ever before.  And we were once again humbled by the observation that there is still so much more to be done.

As we go to press, we’re planning the last phase of the work:  the debris was heli-lifted to two drop sites on logging roads and now we have to get it in to the 7-Mile Landfill in Port McNeill where it will be processed for recycling or landfill. This year, TerraCycle has agreed to take all of our rigid plastics to be reprocessed into new consumer packaging, which reduces our transportation costs while recycling more than we can accomplish on the North Island.

We would all be most grateful for your help with funding this last phase of the work. 

We sincerely appreciate the generosity that our supporters have shown us in the past and want to acknowledge funding from Nachiko Yokota, the Sitka Foundation and the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, that has gotten us this far.  The Province has promised us $1500 in Parks Enhancement Funding and the federal government’s Canada Summer Jobs grant helped pay Maggie’s student salary; but that’s the extent of government support for this work right now.

We’re continuing to talk to Members of Parliament and the B.C. Legislature about government programmes to support this critical work.  In the meantime, it falls to those of us who appreciate how important it is to remove plastics from the ocean before they enter the food web, or strangle or entangle wildlife, to work at reducing the problem at both the source and in the intertidal zone. Thank you, for caring enough to help.