Volunteers Clear 18 Tons of Garbage From County Creeks

by Alta Tura

Creek Week Volunteers

April 28th dawned clear, and an estimated 1,400 volunteers
turned out to clean a creek on Clean-Up Day.

Moderate flows in our region's watershed this spring made
the creeks more accessible than last year. Because there
were no extreme high water events in the rainy season, less
debris than usual was washed up on the banks. Even so,
about 18 tons of garbage were removed from creeks in Sacramento,
Citrus Heights, Folsom, Rancho Cordova and unincorporated
Sacramento County. Specially trained volunteers also removed
invasive red sesbania plants from 1,000 feet along both sides
of Steelhead Creek near Dry Creek. Thousands of seedlings
were uprooted and an estimated 3 million seeds were disposed.

In addition to the usual tires, shopping carts, and general
garbage, there were items fished out of creeks that mystified
the finders: a bed frame, water heater, bowling ball, fire
extinguisher, fax machine, waffle iron, motorcycle frame,
cage trap, washing machine and public telephones. Our volunteers
suspect that garbage gets in the creeks in a variety of ways.
The big items are illegally dumped; some are stolen property.
Homeless encampments account for much of the garbage. Many
smaller items have been tossed out of car windows or blown out
of trucks and find their way to the creek by way of gutters and
storm drains. Every item has its own untold story.

Many wildlife sightings were reported by creek cleanup volunteers.
Introduced or nuisance species such as opossum, turkeys, peacocks,
pheasants, and mosquitoes were spotted. Creek cleaners saw robins,
raccoons, grey squirrels, garter snakes, jack rabbits, western
fence lizards, and mallards - all native residents. Volunteers
were careful to avoid poison oak, a native plant found in abundance
along many of Sacramento's creeks. Poison oak is one of many native
plants that provide food and cover for urban wildlife. Since ninety
percent of urban wildlife depends on creeks, it is not surprising
that eggs and young were reported by volunteers.

The afternoon Celebration at the Discovery Museum Science Center
gave volunteers the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments.
Great live music, fun activities, barbeque, free museum admission
and earth-friendly exhibits were enjoyed by all. Many were
impressed and inspired by the imaginative Junk & Gunk sculptures
on display.

Thank you to all who helped with the cleanup. You helped us in
our mission to preserve and protect an important urban natural
resource - creeks!

This article originally appeared in our 2007 Summer Newsletter

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