Every September, volunteers scour the Sacramento River levee area in Colusa for trash and garbage left by humans. Every year they find quite a bit.
About 50 volunteers joined Premier Mushrooms Inc. at the State Park on Saturday as they do every year to pick up trash and debris in order to protect the environment and wildlife from plastic, polystyrene, and other hazardous debris and chemicals before they make their way into the water.
“This is the eighth annual Colusa River Clean-up,” said organizer Kevin Foley, sustainability coordinator at Premier Mushrooms. “It’s also part of California Coastal Clean-up Day. This is the 35th year that California has been running these events across the state.”
In groups, volunteers of all ages fanned out across the levee from the campground to the Colusa weir.
One of the youngest volunteers, Michael Servin, 5, of Marysville, excitedly picked up trash with his grandparents Chantal Parker and Walter Osbourn, of Colusa.
“He picked up the most trash and he kept going even after he ripped his gloves,” Parker said.
Foley said this year’s River Clean-up had the highest turnout of volunteers to date. Among them were a large amount of youth volunteers, including students, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts.
Ania Malone, Christina Tanner, Jay Calhoun, Jazmin Canolinga, and Delany Amsden, all 14-year-old freshmen from Colusa High School, picked up trash along the levee north of the campground, coming across a dump site of household items, including wood shelves and a broken pole lamp – presumably left by someone willing to risk the $10,000 fine and six months in jail to avoid paying dump tipping fees.
All but Amsden, who attends the event almost every year, volunteered as part of their community service requirement for FFA. Calhoun said that while she needs 24 hours of community service this year, she was very excited about this particular cause.
“Keeping the river healthy keeps the fish healthy,” Calhoun said.
Central Valley Gas Storage, River Partners, and Recology co-sponsored the event. Caffenated sponsored the breakfast for the volunteers after they put in a couple hours of work.
Jackie Filter, assistant field manager with River Partners, said their group’s primary focus has been riparian habitat restoration on the flood plain, which provides flood protection, wildlife habitat for fragile species, and – like picking up trash – helps filter debris before it reaches the waterways.
“A lot of the work we do is right here on the river,” Filter said. “We are really dedicated to what we do.”
Since Colusa’s River Clean-up was started in 2011, volunteers have picked up about 7,000 pounds of trash.
“I think it is really great,” Parker said. “This is about the community coming together and making an impact on a beautiful piece of property.” ■