2013 River & Road Cleanup

Here are the women who came together to help in  the annual River & Road Cleanup.  Image From: Valley Women's Club
Here are the women, men and children who came together to help in the annual River & Road Cleanup.
Image From: Valley Women’s Club

This year, during the Valley Women’s Club’s  27th Annual River & Road Cleanup, 150 dedicated volunteers braved the elements, and despite getting soaked in rain and beer (that’s right, it rained beer), were able to collect over four tons of debris from the San Lorenzo River and surrounding roads.  This most recent cleanup was even more successful than last year’s, with more volunteers signing up and a greater volume of trash and recycling collected.

This event not only helps keep our rivers and roads clean, but also has an effect on coastal pollution. All rivers eventually flow to the sea, ergo, the trash found in our rivers may eventually find its way to the coast.  David Wright, Director of SLV Redemption & Recycling said, “We know that a lot of the material that ends up on the beaches comes from inland. By cleaning up the San Lorenzo River and nearby roads we’re able to make things healthier in the SLV while reducing debris that ultimately makes it’s way into the Monterey Bay” On the same day as the River Road Cleanup, down in Santa Cruz they had the Save Our Shores beach cleanup. Information from the Santa Cruz Sentinel shows that our cleanups are having an effect on coastal cleanliness, this year the volumes of trash collected on the beaches are down and inland are up.

One type of trash that’s a huge problem is cigarette butts.  When they find their way to the river, they poison the water, killing fish and other aquatic creatures.  The toxins from the tobacco and filter are deadly to small animals in concentrated amounts according to an article from Longwood University.  One family team in Ben Lomond, Brook Williams and his dad Jesse, hauled out loads of trash, including over 2,000 cigarette butts.

This chart explains just some of the items found during the Women's clean-up.
This chart shows the items found during the Women’s clean-up. Image From: Valley Women’s Club

Not only does this event help the environment by keeping trash out of the waterways and ocean, it also aesthetically enhances our valley.  Joni Martin, a 5 year River & Road Cleanup veteran, said, “It goes beyond just protecting our rivers, it keeps our town looking nice.”  With the increasing number of homeless encampments in the valley, as well as just unaware citizens littering, there can easily become an amount of trash that detracts from the beauty of our valley.  Because of her passion for the keeping our valley free of trash, Joni has also become involved in a group called Felton Reboot that holds very frequent cleanups.

This year’s River & Road Cleanup was a big success thanks to the dedicated volunteers.  Despite the weather, and grossness of some trash (including a keg of beer bursting after being loaded into the truck, then raining beer on the volunteers), the turnout was outstanding.  The River & Road Cleanup is a cause that almost everyone is in support of.  Nobody likes to live in a town full of trash, and hopefully nobody wants fish and other animals to be affected by human carelessness.  If you would like to become involved in cleanups, you can wait until the River & Road cleanup held next year, or you could contact Felton Reboot at felton.reboot@gmail.com.  Felton Reboot meets almost every week, often in or around the Felton Covered Bridge Park.  To help reduce the trash problem and keep our rivers and ocean safe for its animal inhabitants, you should also try to become aware of what you do with your trash.  Avoid littering, even if it is something small, and try to pick up small items of trash on the ground when you see a trashcan you could deposit it in nearby.  Even the smallest of actions can make a huge difference.

-April Martin-Hansen

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