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Cleanup Volunteers Find Less Trash Along River
Lunch Break
With equipment collected, cleanup workers gather for lunch in the Oak Grove Picnic Area in Jacob Myers Park on Saturday. The volunteers worked through the morning to remove trash and debris from the Stanislaus River, part of a coordinated statewide event organized as the Great Sierra River Cleanup. Ric McGinnis/The News

Volunteers who came out to help clean up the river near Jacob Myers Park on Saturday, Sept. 16 are finding their work easier and easier to accomplish each year, according to organizers.

They were part of an annual statewide program called the Great Sierra River Cleanup, with participants working on lakes, streams and rivers all over California, from the Oregon border to Kern County. Beaches were covered by California Coastal Cleanup Day held at the same time.

Years ago, when the cleanup project first began in Riverbank, volunteers would bring the trash they found on and near the river back to the park and pile it up near the Burney Pavilion, where they would then have lunch. The pile back then was tall and wide, with a wide variety of materials discarded, that had been littering the waterway.

This year, the results from the cleanup just barely covered the bottom of a dumpster provided in the parking lot for disposal of the debris collected. Local site coordinator Trina Walley said the program collects less and less trash here each year, due, she said, to the increased awareness from anti-littering campaigns and help from other volunteer groups who do cleanups at other times during the season.

After the 9 a.m. to noon work schedule, participants were treated to a bag lunch at the Oak Grove Picnic Area in the park. The sandwiches and chips were provided by the Oakdale Rotary Club, which supplied both the Oakdale and Riverbank cleanup sites with food for the volunteers.

Several family groups as well as boys and leaders from Riverbank Boy Scout Troop 1100 provided the labor and enjoyed the lunches.

Each participant was asked to log the materials they collected, to help with a report to the statewide Sierra Nevada Conservancy, in charge of the rivers portion of the cleanup. As the project was winding down at Jacob Myers Park, Walley began tallying all the forms, to be able to better report to the Conservancy.

Some of the items collected, Walley reported, included a metal file, a discarded tire, and a railroad nail. Also listed were food items, such as take out containers, bottle caps, plastic lids, plastic grocery and other bags, cans and bottles, and plastic, foam and paper cups and plates. One hunk of rope was listed, a bit of fishing line, and a cigarette lighter as well as more than 100 cigarette butts.

Eight foam pieces, 55 glass pieces and 82 plastic pieces were listed separately.

Locally, 50 balloons, a dead bird and a dead mouse were also listed.

Statewide, the Conservancy reported 900 volunteers helped remove over six tons of trash, just along interior state waterways. The program serves to promote good stewardship throughout the state’s watersheds, from the Sierra to the sea.

“More than 60 percent of California’s drinking and irrigation water originates in the Sierra Nevada Region,” said Jim Branham, Executive Officer for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. “We want to thank the volunteers who came out today to help keep California’s primary water source clean.”

The Great Sierra River Cleanup kicks off Sierra Nevada Watershed Protection Week, established in 2015 to highlight the importance of the Sierra Nevada region to the entire state.

Officials said the Great Sierra River Cleanup would not be possible without the hard work of dozens of local community groups, officials at the California Coastal Commission, and sponsor, Pacific Gas & Electric.