Where is Chilliwack/Vedder River?
Chilliwack/Vedder River is located in Southwestern British Columbia, Canada. Its tributaries begin in the mountains of Southern Fraser Valley and parts of Northern Washington State. Its total length is over 40km long and it drains into the Lower Fraser River. Throughout the system, it passes through Crown Land, Fraser Valley Regional District, the City of Chilliwack and Abbotsford. Each year, hundreds of thousands of pacific salmon and steelhead make their way back to this river as spawning adults. The river also has populations of residential fish species such as bull trout, rainbow trout and mountain whitefish. In the lower river, it has populations of native birds such as the great blue herons and bald eagles that nest and hunt.
A Popular Recreational Corridor
Due to its scenic setting and short travel distance from Vancouver, it is the most heavily utilized river by recreational users in British Columbia throughout the entire year. Chilliwack River is every rafter and kayaker's paradise during late spring and early summer as snow melt raises the river level. Each summer, campers enjoy many available campsites available along the river. During fall and winter, recreational anglers line up along the banks, searching for salmon, trout and steelhead. The lower river is a popular hangout for teenagers, overnight parties are common occurrences. Downstream from the Vedder Crossing, it is also a sanctuary for migratory birds. Bird watchers across the Pacific Northwest often venture to Chilliwack so they have an opportunity to see these amazing creatures.
Due to heavy usage of Chilliwack Vedder River, problems have emerged over the years. Often at the end of each weekend, the mess created by irresponsible users can be described as the remnants of a battlefield. Piles of garbage can often be found left around fire pits, trails, river banks and parking lots. Some anglers who are so focused on their fishing progress will often drop their used styrofoam cups or fishing lines. While most will leave no trace behind, there seems to be a lack of respect among a small group of users. As a result, not only does it create a very unpleasant environment for other users and local residents, it also becomes a dangerous hazard for wildlife that inhabit in this watershed.
An even larger problem is the illegal overnight dumping that takes place regularly. These large items are known as "criminal garbage". On any given day of the year, it is not uncommon to discover old furnitures, fridges, stoves and tires during a walk along the river. These items are dumped by selfish and irresponsible home and business owners who choose to save a few pennies of dumping fees. Larger items such as bikes and cars are sometimes dismantled and left in the river by thieves. Large quantities of potting soil, fertilizer and electrical utilities can also be found. This is often the work of illegal grow operations.
Cleaning up a stream can be a big challenge, but cleaning up a large system such as the Chilliwack Vedder River almost seems impossible. There are no immediate solutions, but a long term plan can certainly improve the situation slowly. Some actions have been taken since 2002 to tackle these problems.
Since February 2002, major clean-up events have been held with great result. During these events, volunteers meet up at a given location and time, and spend up to four hours cleaning their assigned section of the river. The Chilliwack Vedder River Cleanup Society currently organizes three group clean-ups per year, including September's World Rivers Day. Between 100 and 250 participants take part at each group clean-up. Since 2002, these group clean-ups have removed over 70 tonnes of garbage from this watershed! You can find out more about our group clean-ups by going to this page.
Group river clean-up is only a short-term solution to the problem, not a prevention. To prevent the garbage problem from escalating, CVRCS has developed an Adopt-a-River program. We hope, by having user groups adopting sections of the river, it can be constantly monitored and cleaned. We want to encourage all user groups and the community to be more involved.
Education is also another important component of this program. The public needs to be aware of what is happening out there. This website acts as a broadcasting tool for readers so you can stay updated on the state of Chilliwack Vedder River and the progress of CVRCS.