Good deed keeping streams clean

When you watch salmon fry dart through pools you want to perform a good deed.

How far that little candle throws his beam! So shines a good deed in a weary world.

– Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice.


McKenney Creek rises from springs near the hospital, and passes through culverts under the Lougheed Highway before swinging south of Dewdney Trunk Road near 206th Street.

When you watch salmon fry dart through pools shared with car tires, beer cans, and oil slicks, you want to perform a good deed for this weary world.

Joe Jurcich, who lives along the stream here, keeps an eye out for household toxins dumped down storm drains, and removes invasive plants like ivy when he’s not monitoring the wood duck nests he’s set in trees. His reward is to count coho fry while watching ducklings parachute to earth and disappear under ground cover.

When Jurcich learned of the ARMS Adopt-a-Stream Project last year, he signed up to mentor his section of McKenney, and recruited neighbors in the cause. That’s a candle throwing its beam outward.

Since then, Joe and ARMS have reduced knotweed along the banks. It’s a bamboo-like weed that chokes out everything.

Efforts to restore McKenney broadened this year to a stretch in a greenbelt between Rosewood and Value Village at 207th.

Last summer, local resident Dan Vaughan alerted me to white paint-like substance on the water. Within minutes after I contacted the Maple Ridge fire department – the pollution responders now – firemen were on scene to contain it, lifting manhole covers in vain to track the source. Nothing mops up paint. It’s unclear what it killed.

A week later, Joe and I walked the area, finding trash – broken chairs, toys, tires, car seats, discarded clothing, bikes, social studies and science text books, and a desk –  within this home to owls, raccoons, woodpeckers, a crow rookery, and coyote pups. An excellent canopy of maple trees provides insects for fish.

ARMS, recognizing the value of McKenney, offered to clean it up.

On May 28, work began here, then moved into Katzie Slough, at the entrance to Meadowtown Centre under the Golden Ears Bridge.

ARMS manager Greta Borick-Cunningham got help from Bob Richardson of the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre. A six-inmate work crew was deployed to collect garbage.

Randy Van Tunen, of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows parks department, provided a truck to haul away bed frames, headboards, CDs and bundles of newspapers.

Enlightened teamwork retrieved 1,800 pounds of trash, including 10 shopping carts, real estate signs, carpets, chairs, and a set of weights.

Scott Magri coordinated the Katzie Slough clean up. Scott recently launched the Katzie Slough Restoration Project, his ambitious plan to get clean water flowing to restore salmon and trout.

He fished for them as a bullied teenager. The slough, his safe place then, is a dirty irrigation ditch now.

But Scott vows to change that.

His passion is infectious.

Lina Azeez, of Watershed Watch, supports Scott’s goal. Last month, the pair led 30 folks on a slough tour that ended at the aging Kennedy Road irrigation pump, which grinds up fish entering the Pitt River.

Scott wants it replaced with a new fish-friendly one. It would help turn the slough into a huge producer of wintering fry.

Scott says the pump would cost $6 million – worth it when you consider the boon to a local sports fishery, recreation, and berry farmers, whose crops would be more appealing if fed with clean water.

Scott and Lina are holding a bike tour July 19. Meet at Meadowtown Mall,  5 p.m. All are welcome.

On June 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., ARMS returned to McKenney to remove lamium, another destructive invasive. Members found a new pile of insulation, candy wrappers, clothing, fast food containers, and empty packs labeled “insulin’.”

A lot of children here would be safer if residents and businesses adopted this creek section.

Later, ARMS returned to Katzie Slough to inventory plants.

Anyone who wants to make another good deed happen for either stream can join ARMS (604-467-6401), or Scott (604-202-6484).


– Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist.