There have never been fewer than 75 volunteers for the clean-up said Nancy Macy, co-chair of the environmental committee for the Valley Women’s Club. Macy has been involved with the project for 26 years and credits its initiation to Al Haynes, who was the analyst for the San Lorenzo Valley Water District for many years, as well as one of the founders of the Valley Women’s Club.
David Wright, director of the San Lorenzo Valley Redemption and Recycling Center, said there were 151 volunteers last year. Those volunteers chipped in to collect over 9,000 pounds of trash and recyclables as well as 3,397 cigarette butts.
“It is also a good reminder of how important it is to recycle,” Wright said. “The more you can recycle, the less material ends up in the waste stream.”
The event is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers can check in at any time between those hours at one of the designated locations in Felton, Lompico, Ben Lomond, and Boulder Creek.
“It’s a little different in the Valley than it is down at the beach,” Macy said. “At the beach, the stuff is pretty small like litter, trash, cigarette butts, bottles and cans.”
“Up here it can be anything from a refrigerator to an old wood stove.”
Within the last few years, Save Our Shores has sponsored and joined forces with the Valley Women’s Club’s clean-up event, Macy said. Another environmental group called the San Lorenzo Valley CORE also helps to promote the event and partakes in the morning clean-up in Felton.
“People of all ages can participate, people who want to get wet can actually go along the river and pull stuff up, Macy said. “That’s why we do it in the fall, to clean it up as much as we can before the rains come and washes it down.”
Additionally, volunteers can help pick up trash along the roadways to prevent debris from washing into the drainage ditches that go directly into the river and creek, she said. It is also a wonderful way for kids to get community service hours for school.
The County of Santa Cruz and the San Lorenzo Valley Water District sponsor the event as well by providing trucks to haul the trash away, Wright said. Santa Cruz County gives the Annual River and Road Clean-up a free pass to dump the trash at the Ben Lomond Transfer Station on that day.
All recyclable materials are sorted and resorted by volunteers and taken to local redemption and recycling centers, Wright said.
“People are often surprised at what a good time they have, hunting around down the river, meeting new people, and at the huge volume of materials that they are able to clean up,” he said. “It turns out to be a really rewarding and fun experience for people almost all of the time.”
To report a troubled area or to sign up for the Annual River and Road Clean-up call 335-1728 or visit http://valleywomensclub.org/2014/07/15/river-road-cleanup-2014/