Region 2 - Lower Mainland

Dennis Zetner - Delta-Ladner Rod & Gun Club

In the early 90’s, Dennis Zetner with the Delta-Ladner Rod & Gun Club (DLRGC) embarked on what would become a successful annual event to improve the health of Fraser River delta. Originally, Dennis and the club focused their efforts along the Boundary Bay dyke where club members voluntarily removed garbage from the area to improve water quality.   As time went on, they extended their efforts to include Chilukthan slough, Tsawwassen ferry terminal, and the Delta Port Causeway.  As a result of their annual clean-up event combined with the ongoing support from local schools, Scouts Canada, and other groups less garbage was collected each year. By the mid-2000s DLRGC decided they could switch their focal area to enhance their impact.   With many of their members owning boats for hunting and angling, the DLRGC members began to clean areas otherwise inaccessible to the general public.

The Delta Marsh, at the mouth of the mighty Fraser River, became the primary location for cleanup. By posting a thread on the DLRGC doubled the amount of people who turned out for the first clean-up . Time, boats, and fuel were donated to the cause and lead to one of the most successful cleanups ever. In the first year at the Delta Marsh, two disposal bins and four dump trucks (donated by Delta Pacific Trucking and Westwood Top Soil) were filled with trash in a single day. Refrigerators, TVs, boats, chest freezers and household garbage were all removed from the marsh.

“We’ve found pretty much everything under the sun.”

Each year when the tide is low (usually early May), the DLRGC and those from slip on their chest waders and head back into the marsh to clean up the seemingly endless flow of trash from Delta, Coquitlam, New Westminster and other parts of the Fraser River complex. “[It’s] not only hard work but also good times. Lots of laughs”, said Dennis. Conservation officers, city counsellors, family members, and BCWF staff have all at some point joined the group of 15-30 volunteers that participate each year. One annual participant even travels from Washington to contribute.

“Every year we get new faces. People are amazed at the trash [that] is in there.”

For such amazing results, there is surprisingly little cost involved in the event. The city of Delta provides the disposal bins and covers the landfill feeds, the dump trucks are donated by Delta Pacific Trucking, and their “garbage scow” is a herring skiff donated by Kyle Williams of the Tsawwassen First Nation. The only cost to the DLRGC is garbage bags, refreshments, and some fuel for the skiff, which rarely reaches $100, says Dennis. “It’s a matter of just making a few phone calls”

Though each year they have been finding less garbage, now most of what they find is new, leading Dennis to believe that their services will be required as long as “…some people think the river is their dumping ground”. Educating people on how their activities are hazardous to wildlife, habitat, and boaters is most likely the only way to halt the continuous flow of trash.

It is Dennis’s hope that in the future they could go one step further and recycle some of the glass, foam, and cans that are removed from the marsh.


-Written by Jason Jobin