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a pile of people & garbage
General News · 12th May 2018
Christine & Cec Robinson
Mitlenatch Island, a satellite of Cortes, lays all by herself, 5 nautical miles from Sutil Point, the southern most point of Cortes. Mitlenatch Island, in the northern Salish Sea, is the meeting place for the tides wrapping around Vancouver Island, carrying nutrient rich waters & life, supporting a wealth of seabirds that call Mitlenatch home- the glaucous-winged gull, double-crested & pelagic cormorants, pigeon guillimots, harlequin ducks, and a variety of migratory birds stopping spring and fall for a welcome rest.

‘Where tidal waters meet’ was known well to the Coast Salish peoples for the gull eggs, clams, and common camas bulbs, an important starch food for them. Each spring, Mitlenatch dons her colourful spring cloak of spectacular wildflowers, including the prickly pear cactus.

During winter storms, Mitlenatch’s strategic position is a catchment for a staggering amount of debris. Plans for Operation Mitlenatch had simmered for a couple of years, and finally, exploded into action this spring. On March 2, long before many nesting birds had returned to stake out territory, and with consent from BC Parks, Misty Isles and Skipper Mike ferried a group of garbage enthusiasts to Mitlenatch to scour crevices & crannies not open to the public. A staggering volume of garbage was collected and piled near the stewards’ cabin, including styrofoam floats from docks, styrofoam bits, rusted metal, tires, plastic aquaculture trays, and even an intact mattress, parts of a Kevlar canoe, and the prow of a dinghy. Most distressing was the volume of disintegrating styrofoam into millions of pea-size bits, just the size to become part of the food chain. Stage One of Operation Mitlenatch was completed, with thanks to Mike Manson, Andy Ellingsen, Chris Napper, Cec & Christine Robinson, and Mike Moore.

Stage Two of Operation Mitlenatch was a dilemma – where and how does this volume of garbage go? No roadside pickup on Mitlenatch. Island Sea Farms generously came to the rescue, providing the ideal large herring skiff, fuel and driver, Devon Johnston, with the crew of Tosh Harvey, Cec & Christine, and Mitlenatch-based Ken Graham. On May 8, not one, but two trips, were needed to clear the garbage pile from Mitlenatch, and carry to a BC Parks truck, waiting at Pacific Playgrounds. A great example of community collaboration between Island Sea Farms, Misty Isles, Cortesians, Mitlenatch stewards, BC Parks and Pacific Playgrounds.

A raucous cry of appreciation from the seabirds and island critters goes out to all who participated in Operation Mitlenatch.

Mitlenatch sits a little lighter, for now.
loaded skiff
loaded skiff
unloading, Pacific Playground
unloading, Pacific Playground
Great JOB
Comment by Nancy Ponting (250) 334 6768 on 3rd June 2018
Thank goodness there are good folks like you out there taking care of our beautiful islands. I would love to join in and help if there is a project coming up .. send me an email.

Amazing work!!
You are my Heroes!
Comment by Patricia L on 13th May 2018
Great job. If I had known about it I would have loved to join you.

Thank you for this wonderful thing you did.

Comment by Amanda Glickman on 13th May 2018
Thank you guys so much!