Letter to the editor

In August and September this year we canoed 1,300 kilometres of the Columbia River, beginning at Columbia Lake and ending in Desert Aire, Washington. 

It was an extraordinary trip, and a unique experience to see so much of this historic and powerful river. It was also eye-opening in terms of seeing the range of ways substantial human interference and development has affected the Columbia River. 

To our surprise, one of the most frustrating things we saw was a very large number of golf balls from the Fairmont Golf Course littering the riverbed, not just right at the golf course but many kilometres downstream — all the way to the mouth of Lake Windermere and beyond. 

This litter on the riverbed is no doubt pushed further downstream each spring with flood waters. 

This might seem like an inconsequential issue to bring up. Here’s why it’s not: when Fairmont allows for golf balls — made of plastic, a thermoplastic resin called Surlyn, or urethane — to be thrown in the river, it sends the message to other river users that this kind of behaviour is acceptable. It provides an example to others recreating in the water that the river isn’t a resource for our communities to be taken care of and protected, but instead can be treated carelessly. 

Stephen Hews and Hannah Griffin,