LAC LA BICHE - On Sept. 20, a small group representing Healthy Waters Lac La Biche and LICA (Lakeland Industry and Community Association) Environmental Stewards donned gloves and armed themselves with large plastic garbage bags to perform the annual Fall Lakeshore Cleanup.
Made up of less than half a dozen people, the small Lac La Biche group was part of a much larger collection of people in 197 countries around the world doing their part for World Cleanup Day, which was officially recognized on Sept. 16.
The Lac La Biche cleanup is one of only two that occur annually in Alberta, with the other in Edmonton. For this year’s event, Healthy Waters Lac La Biche partnered with LICA Environmental Stewards, a Bonnyville-based environmental organization which also serves as the watershed planning and advisory council for the Beaver River Watershed.
Brian Deheer, the president of Healthy Waters Lac La Biche, said the Fall Lakeshore Cleanup is very important as it not only keeps the sensitive area around the lake clean and healthy, but also helps to prevent plastic and other bits of garbage from getting into the lake – which flows into the La Biche River and eventually into the Arctic Ocean.
“It’s important to keep the lake and the lake’s waters as healthy as possible," Deheer said, "A lot of litter is plastics, and of course, plastic takes decades if not centuries to decompose.”
Stephanie Sampson, an education and outreach coordinator for LICA, stated that shoreline cleanups are part of campaigns initiated through the "Keep Our Lake Blue" program.
She said the awareness campaign encourages residents and people living around lakes to take an active role in the health of the waters and the lakeshore. She said the World Cleanup Day event is just a promotion to remind people to take care of the local waters every day.
“The idea is to encourage people who live by the lake or on the lake to do different actions that help prevent the buildup of things like blue-green algae, or pollution,” she said, adding that these cleanups are helping to raise public awareness about pollution and are getting more of the public involved.
In and around the Lakeland area there are more than 150 easily accessible lakes and water bodies. The area's waters are part of the health and well-being of the region, providing source points not only for human water consumption, but also for the abundant wildlife in the region.
The Healthy Waters Lac La Biche society is always ready to welcome new members, says Deheer, and the LICA organization hopes to reach more community members with events and education programming year round. Information about each group can be found on their social media pages.