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Locals gather to clear trash from river

Community: Hundreds of people join Santa Clarita effort to clean the Santa Clara River in Canyon Cou

Posted: September 12, 2010 10:29 p.m.
Updated: September 13, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Daniel Leitzell and Wyatt Budge, both 13, get their tire trash over to a dump location in the Santa Clarita River. Volunteers found everything from entertainment units to cars.

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The crowd of approximately 1,300 people went the 16th annual River Rally for several reasons Saturday. Some did it because they needed volunteer hours for school, some did it out of a sense of civic pride, some did it just to experience the natural landscape of Santa Clarita and others did it simply because it seemed like fun, Santa Clarita’s environmental services manager Travis Lange said.

“The coolest thing I realize every year is that people come back,” he said. “Every year we get calls months in advance saying ‘Hey, I haven’t seen River Rally advertised. When is it happening? When is it going to be?’”

Attendees to the free event, held behind the Soledad Shopping Center in Canyon Country, received gloves and had to take part in a biology lesson that teaches the best ways to minimize their impact on wildlife. Dedicated volunteers have removed more than 294,000 pounds of trash from the area over the past 16 years.

Volunteers found an eclectic collection of items in the dry riverbed — everything from entertainment units to couches to cars.

The Cashin family has aided in river cleaning for three years. The strong crowd was a display of a civically responsible community, according to Brent Cashin.

“If the opportunity is provided, you’ll get lots of volunteers to do things like this,” he said.

Cleaning up the various broken bottles and other bits of debris not only provides an aesthetic benefit, but also helps protect the habitat of animals in the riverbed.

Seeing the various critters and creatures provided a unique experience for several volunteers. Such was the case with the Saugus High School Key Club members who, upon seeing a scurrying jackrabbit, reacted like many teens.

“We were kind of freaking out,” Saugus High senior Alyssa Braxton said. “We were like ‘Oh  my God, it’s a jackrabbit!’ You don’t normally see those around your house.”

Several of the younger volunteers noted that one reason they take part in events such as the River Rally is because their generation has been tasked with cleaning up the environment they will inherit.

“We live on this planet,” Saugus High senior Kinsey Colgan said. “We should take care of it.”

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