May 21st, 2024

Annual Coulee Cleanup initiative kicks off in city’s river valley

By Justin Seward - Lethbridge Herald on April 23, 2024.

Herald photo by Justin Seward - Yolanda Hao and Jimmy Yang pick up garbage during the Coulee Cleanup on Saturday at Indian Battle Park.

Community members scoured Indian Battle Park to collect garbage as a part of Helen Schuler Nature Centre’s launch of the annual Coulee Cleanup campaign on Saturday morning.

“We launch every year in April and it’s just to get community members activated, get them out to the parks and into the coulees, into the river valley and the green spaces and just cleaning up all that garbage that blows around,” Marianne Virag, the Centre’s facility programming coordinator.

Virag said everyone knows that garbage is unsightly, especially when it’s kind of stuck to coulees and blowing around.

“It also causes a lot of problems for the ecosystem,” said Virag.

“So there’s a lot of plants and animals that are very vulnerable that live in Lethbridge’s river valley … It (garbage) just kind of sits and blows around and it impacts their ability to thrive and it’s also really super messy.”

The Nature Centre has seen more volunteers come out each year since the cleanup’s inception in 2008.

“We definitely have more and more volunteers ever year which means that more and more garbage is being picked up,” said Virag.

“I think some of the parks are seeing less garbage. Indian Battle, in particular, is a park that a lot of people today have told me is a very clean park which is excellent.”

Most of the bags that were dropped off were half full of coffee cups, cigarette butts, gum wrappers and dog poop bags.

“We’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and we like to contribute to making sure it remains a beautiful place for people to visit and so every year we come out to do events like these,” said Todd Wood, who comes with his family.

“I said year-by-year it’s getting more cleaner,” said Yolanda Hao.

Virag estimated they had about 40 people come down to the park for the drop-in event.

Virag anticipated there will be hundreds of people picking up garbage over the next couple of months in the city based on registration numbers for upcoming programs.

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