Several times a year, BCR arranges a creek or wetlands cleanup, along with partners such as other organizations or public agencies. We choose a small section of the creek and ask volunteers to come for 2 or 3 hours on a Saturday morning to remove all the trash and other items that shouldn’t be in the water, or on the banks, bikepath or fencing. Notices of these cleanups are posted in the “Recent and Upcoming Events” section on the right side of our home page. Those on our email list will get notices, too.
So, what’s the procedure? First, and most important, NO ONE goes into the water, which could be unsafe. Volunteers remove only what can be reached from the banks. We provide plastic gloves, large plastic bags, and assorted tools such as rakes. If you have other useful tools, such as long-handled grabbers, please bring them. Wear sunblock and closed-toe shoes. Water-resistant shoes or boots can be helpful.
We also provide water, light refreshments and sun block, but we hope volunteers will bring their own reusable water bottles (one less cup in the trash…). Before volunteers are given the go-ahead, we provide verbal instructions on how to clean up safely and what not to pick up but instead report to the leaders.
Adults, students and children may participate. Children under 18 must bring a waiver signed by a parent or guardian, and younger children must be closely supervised. But people of all ages find it gratifying and educational to understand the link between the coffee cup thrown into the street and the trash that endangers fish, birds and other aquatic animals. We provide a booth of educational materials about the creek. We also sign for service credits for students.
One of our cleanups is held on the third Saturday of September, Coastal Cleanup Day, before the first rains of the season. Winter rains always bring a big glut of trash which is washed from the streets into the storm drains and flushed into the creek (photo, left). In truth, the cleanup is symbolic, representing just a tiny fraction of the trash in the creek, but it raises awareness.
We discover lots of other items which somehow make their way into the creek. Previous cleanups have yielded toys, balls, shopping carts, carpeting, signs, mattresses, dead animals, and drugs and medical equipment. We ask the City to remove dangerous items. After the cleanup is complete, the City or County will dispose of all the trash collected.
The County maintains a trash net across the creek just west of Lincoln Blvd (see photo right) which is periodically harvested by crews. Ironically, however, the net has to be removed during storms because it would be overwhelmed by the torrent of water and trash and would disrupt the flow, causing water to back up and possibly overflow the banks.