If you saw students down at the Slocan River this spring, nets in hand, getting their feet wet, learning about water quality and the aquatic insects, then you were seeing kids in action, connecting to and discovering their local watershed.
This May and June, the Grade 6-8 science students from WE Graham Community School in Slocan and the Grade 8 students from Mt. Sentinel Secondary School in South Slocan both participated in Know Your Watershed, a program of the Columbia Basin Trust, administered and managed by Wildsight.
Understanding the quality of their river by doing chemical water tests such as pH, nitrate, phosphate, dissolved oxygen and turbidity, as well as looking at the diversity and sheer number of aquatic insects, has created awareness and turned the students into committed advocates and ambassadors of the Slocan River.
To better protect their watershed, the students from both communities engaged in a Student Action Project, the Pack-In Pack-Out River Bag project, in conjunction with the Green Team and the Global Perspectives class from Mt. Sentinel Secondary School.
With grant support from our local RDCK, Slocan RiverWatch and Wildsight, the students constructed and sewed together mesh bags that attach to the outside of a floating device to collect cans, bottles and garbage when floating down the Slocan River this summer.
The number of people floating down the Slocan River has exponentially increased over the years, along with the accumulation of garbage in the river. The cans and bottles at the bottom of the river are becoming breeding habitat for leeches, where the fish cannot reach them—this changes the dynamics of our river system. The bags will serve to remind people how important it is to Pack-In Pack-Out their garbage, cans and bottles.
By recognizing the human impacts on our water quality, the Pack-In Pack-Out River Bag project is a practical and meaningful way to make everyone a watershed steward, personally responsible for protecting the Slocan River. The bags will be available at local stores as well as at a Slocan RiverWatch give-away event and from local students and supporters this summer at various entry points on the river.
Many thanks go to the students and teachers in the Slocan Valley, Wildsight, Slocan RiverWatch, RDCK Area H and Columbia Basin Trust.