The Columbia River holds much mystery below its mighty surface. But a hidden piece will come to light when it’s fished from the bottom and carried to shore on Earth Day.
Beginning around 7 a.m. today (Friday), bridge builders will be on the water and pulling up big chunks of scrap metal from river depths then hauling it to land for proper disposal.
It all started when Graham Infrastructure asked the City of Trail what projects they could help with to respect the global cause, which is something the company does at all its sites every April 22.
“Graham actually approached us,” explains city engineer Warren Proulx. “They participate (internationally) in Earth Day, so they asked the city if there were any projects that would represent Earth Day, and we said we could very easily find something.”
Proulx said the company offered four hours of work to complete two labour-intensive tasks.
Besides cleaning the waterway, crews will walk an excavator up to the Gorge Street outfall, where Spokane Street meets the Columbia River. Then, they’ll re-arrange shot rock along the river wall area to enhance the environment for fish and other aquatic life.
“When the rip rap was put in we didn’t take a lot of the habitat into consideration,” said Proulx. “We just placed it at this particular outfall, so they are going to redistribute those rocks and create a place for fish to feed and spawn.”
When the Earth Day work is done, the company is hosting a get together at Jubilee Park for their crews and city staff.
Trail Mayor Mike Martin will be joining the event and says Graham workers have not only come to build the bridge, but in so many ways, embraced and integrated themselves into the community.
“Before we received the bid for construction of the bridge, we did not know much of anything about Graham beyond seeing the occasional sign at a construction site,” said Martin. “We have learned so much about the company and its people since that time. This is a company which has commitment, integrity, and reliability and this is demonstrated each and every day through their actions,” he added. “They value Earth Day and through their actions today (Friday) by cleaning up the river they are demonstrating commitment to those values.”
This year’s Earth Day adds to the long history of a community dedicated to restoring its environment, Martin continued.
The Earth Day challenge to plant one tree for every person on the planet between now and 2020, means 7.8 billion trees world wide, 35 million in Canada and 7,500 in Trail – translating to five trees per day in the city.
“The greenery and pristine condition of the river that we see around us today is demonstration of that commitment,” he said. “Earlier this week the city partnered with KSCU (Kootenay Savings Credit Union) to plant more trees along the banks of the Columbia River and with others, over the years, literally thousands of trees have been planted on the hills surrounding our community.”
Graham already gave the city a head start with the 2016 #Rooting4Trees campaign, Martin added.
“On Monday, while touring the construction site I was shown over 500 trees that have been planted around the base of the south tower – now that is a true commitment and walking the talk.”
Prior to bridge construction, the city completed an environmental assessment to study its impact to the landscape, aquatic habitat, even wildlife.
“That included how we can put the grounds we built the bridge on, back in their natural states and improve the habitat and vegetation,” Proulx added. “A lot was involved to do our due diligence to make sure what we are doing is good for the environment.”