from the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance:
The snow is melting, the rivers are moving, and the annual Pollett River Run is fast approaching. Every year, hundreds of people take rafts, canoes, kayaks, and other floating contraptions down the river to enjoy a day with friends in nature. While it is important to spend time with your community, oftentimes this event leaves the River Run’s ending location (a privately owned agricultural field) degraded, filled with garbage, and leaching mud into one of the most pristine rivers in the watershed. Bottles, cans, and plastic six-pack rings are left behind, and can have many devastating impacts on the local wildlife. For example, the plastic rings that hold six-packs can entangle fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, causing sometimes lethal lacerations. The disruption to the field from rigorous vehicle activity leaves a smattering of mud pits of varying sizes, which spill into the river after any rain event. Sedimentation, or mud entering the river, is lethal for freshly-laid salmon and trout eggs because it settles over them, smothers, and kills them- these species rely on clean, clear, cold water. Sedimentation can also increase water temperature by absorbing solar radiation, and as water warms, it is less able to hold the oxygen needed by fish. Abandoned rafts can cause debris build ups, and if left unchecked, could potentially cause a barrier to migrating fish, such as the endangered Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon.
The Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance (PWA) is working jointly with Fort Folly Habitat Recovery Program (FFHRP) on behalf of the Petitcodiac Fish Recovery Coalition to mitigate damages from this large-scale annual event. “I understand how important this day is to some of our watershed residents- they’ve got cabin fever and are excited for a sun-filled day with their friends enjoying the river, perhaps a few beers, and some great company. I also think it’s amazing that such a large scale community event happens every year without a single organizing body!”, PWA Executive Director Christine McLauchlan laughs. “We just have to make sure that people can enjoy their day without harming the sensitive species that call the Pollett River home.” This year, the groups will be providing portable toilets to reduce raw sewage waste into the river, trash receptacles throughout, and a small clean-up crew to mitigate damages made by stray garbage. “Our folks will be there, milling around, so feel free to come say hi.” McLauchlan added.
Stay tuned for local radio announcements that will commence on Saturday, 18 April, on XL96.9 and C103