The longest river in Corsica suffers from pollution. Plastic, tires, car wrecks and other debris enter the territory of fish and other animals. Every year the members of the Canoë-Kayak Club du Golu meet to gather as many as possible.
Golo boasts an extraordinary aquatic diversity. Mules, turtles, dragonflies, chicken ducks, but also tires, dishwashers, car wrecks, pottery, electric rods … here is the rich ecological plurality in this XXIe century of the longest river in Corsica, measuring 89.6 km.
At the width of goal in late June, shortly after Canonica Church in Luciana, a handful of volunteers are busy. The life jackets and gloves are on, the kayaks are already in the water with the paddles left only to sail, or rather take up the river, in search of rubbish.
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Founded in 2017 Canoe Kayak Club Golu, strives to cleanse this river as well as possible. Firstly because it is the first to be affected by this maritime pollution, secondly for ecological reasons, to rid the fauna and flora of its unwanted guests. Every year since its inception, CKCG has hosted a clean-up day at the start of the season. A free canoe trip, on a voluntary basis.
The goal is therefore twofold for the participants: to enjoy the trip while working on preserving the place.
The meeting was scheduled for 3 pm in the club, which is located on a former wild site. For the occasion, about fifteen volunteers responded to the call on social networks by Emma Barrero, a 19-year-old life science student at Corte, responsible for this kayak trip. The student gives his parents a hand. His mother Valérie is president of the association, his father Bruno is the monitor. The trio is assisted by Lucas Salgado, also a monitor. This year, after her father, she took over organizing this cleanup operation and decided to bring back as many people as possible.
“We want people to discover this beautiful place and share our passion. We combine business with pleasure and there is no shortage of waste to collect. We have seen an improvement over the years, I think the inhabitants are more careful, but there is still so much waste to extract … “
15.30, it’s time to take the plunge. The first goal is to reach a small sandy beach located a few hundred meters upstream.
Radiators and condom dispenser
Section by section, summer after summer, the club and its followers do their best to clean up. But the task looks daunting. Impossible, for example, to extract objects that are too heavy, such as rusty car wrecks.
Over time, these have almost melted into the background and act as a refuge for mules. Not to mention the decks, which are more than the fish in the mud. Feet in the water, at this time of year (river level is relatively low), little Lucas and his friends pick up their so many decks. There are still many more, but the kayak is already full, it’s time to go home.
A few meters further, it takes several people to get a plastic sheet out of the mud. Further downstream, two young people, despite all their good will, must admit defeat. The tractor tire is way too heavy to carry. Unfortunately, volunteers can not do everything.
However, the walk is worth a detour and the change of scenery is complete. After a few meters of paddling, the sound of birds and the current replaces the sound of traffic. Only planes approaching Poretta Airport abruptly tear kayakers from their little corner of rural paradise. Unfortunately, even isolated in the middle of nature, the human impact is felt when hikers discover the astonishing amount of debris barely hidden by the mud.
10 tons of waste collected the first year
And there is. Among the most unusual items found are strollers, a condom dispenser and even more recently a soldier’s helmet. Probably from World War II, but the object in question has not yet been assessed, the mystery persists.
In his canoe, teacher Jean-François did not hesitate for a moment to come and lend a hand. And for the occasion, he invited his 7-year-old daughter Emma, who was in the process of her first kayak. “I found the initiative very interesting. As a fisherman, I can only see the increasing pollution of the Golo. Especially by mouth. I saw a lot of rubbish there, even a stranded semi-rigid. It’s sad, especially when ‘from the area.’
On the boat next door, though this match is similar to David’s against Goliath, Bruno Barrero does not despair over a day of seeing the river completely cleansed. “Young people today are much more aware to the environment. We can see it through this excursion, there are really many students and children who came to give us a hand. We have collected many tons in 5 years, ten tons the first year. And we are not happy that this day we are trying to bring the waste back daily, but we are less numerous, so we do it little by little.
If for the monitor, the hope of being able to navigate or swim without risking hitting the wreckage of cars still exists, it will take time, energy and assistance from the public authorities to achieve this. Meanwhile, in one day, the group collected 18 tires, a fishing chair, a radiator, a car helmet and a stainless steel sink. Not to mention plastic and metal pieces. As they say, the fishing was good.