A trove of trash was collected across the Sierra on Saturday during the 1st Great Sierra River Cleanup, sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and its many partners throughout the Sierra.
An estimated 3,000 volunteers spread out across 22 counties and 140 river miles of the Sierra Nevada to clean more than 40 river and creek sites from Lassen to Yosemite. Wearing disposable gloves and armed with trash sacks, the garbage-collectors-for-a-day did their part to purge local rivers of all manner of trash that ends up in and around the rivers and streams that provide 65% of the state’s water supply.
“The Great Sierra River Cleanup was about much more than picking up trash,” said Jim Branham, Executive Officer of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. “This was a day for families, friends and communities throughout the Sierra region to come together to ensure that our great rivers stay healthy and clean. These volunteers cleaned up the streams that provide water for people living in the Bay Area, the Central Valley, Southern California, as well as many of the State’s farmers.”
In Auburn, Protect American River Canyons (PARC) organized close to 200 volunteers, including a helicopter crew from the California Highway Patrol to pick up trash from the American River at the Auburn Foresthill bridge and other sites.
“We’ve picked up hospital beds, jetskis, furniture, motorcycles, bikes and TVs under the bridge. We can’t let all these toxics remain in the river,” said Eric Peach, who coordinated the American River Cleanup. “We’re really pleased to be able to help State Parks keep this beautiful river safe and clean.” All in all, the volunteers removed a 40 yard
dumpster full of trash from the river on Saturday and also participated in a nature and history walk led by the Auburn State Recreation Area Canyon Keepers.
Volunteers around the Sierra gathered over 63 tons of trash and 1 ton of recycling, with results still coming in. Unusual items such as a bag of gold jewelry (safely delivered to the local police) and 2 sunken motor boats were recorded. Volunteers ranged in age from 1 year old to 82 years old with the oldest volunteer helping out at Sierra Institute’s CleanUp event on the Feather River near Chester.
The event was organized by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy a state agency created in 2004 charged with improving the environmental, economic and social well-being of the Sierra Nevada Region, its citizens and the people of California. The Conservancy covers 1/4 of the state and includes all or part of 22 of California’s 58 counties.
The Great Sierra River Cleanup is being held in conjunction with the 25th annual Coastal Cleanup Day, which has proven extremely successful in removing trash from coastal streams and ocean fronts.
Photograph from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.