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1,500 pull trash from river

Posted: September 20, 2008 7:42 p.m.
Updated: November 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Kenney Davis, 10, carries bricks she and fellow Girl Scout Troop 368 member Audrey McIntosh, 10, found while cleaning up the Santa Clara River on Saturday during the 14th Annual River Rally.

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Equipped with a black trash bag and white gloves, Sharon Williams and daughter Jennifer trudged through the sand of the Santa Clara River early Saturday morning.

During the previous couple of hours, the mother and daughter from Canyon Country canvassed an area of the dry river that sliced through Valencia, picking up what others had dropped long ago.

Throughout the morning, the Williams found a mix of waste, including rusty shopping carts, a bunch of glass and iron, old car parts and discarded clothing.

Even some drug paraphernalia turned up.

As dirty as the trash was, the two believed the Saturday morning clean up effort was necessary.

“This is where we live,” Jennifer said.

Her mother quickly added: “If everybody did this, our environment would be so much cleaner.”

Cleaning up one of the last natural rivers in Southern California also gave the Williams a way to connect to the Santa Clarita Valley.

“I love our community,” Sharon said. “I love these projects.”

The Williams were joined by up to 1,500 other local residents during Saturday’s River Rally, a city-sponsored clean up effort for the Santa Clara River. This year’s rally focused on the portion of the Santa Clara River located off Wiley Canyon Road between Valencia and Newhall.

The rally is designed for volunteers to lend a hand while also learning about the environment and local environmental programs through the Environmental Expo.

“The people coming to the event are all concerned about the environment and we want to show them other environmental opportunities,” said Mark Patti, project development coordinator for the city’s environmental services division.

Over the 14 years the rally has been held, around 270,000 pounds of trash have been collected, Patti said.
As volunteers scoured the Santa Clara River with their trash bags, others stationed booths and tables inside the expo’s tent, giving visitors the chance to learn about local environmental efforts.

Patti said it gave the residents of the Santa Clarita Valley a way to appreciate their hometown.

“It’s an opportunity for people to come out and take pride in the community,” Patti said.

However environmentally sensitive areas were roped off to prevent the thousands of volunteers from disturbing any native or endangered species, he said.

In the riverbed, families, Boy Scout troops and high school organizations were spotted among the dry brush and trees.
Valencia residents Ray Leonard and son Steven marked their second visit to River Rally.

“I love it,” Ray said. “It’s supporting the community, helping the environment and teaching the next generation.”
The experience had taught 12-year-old Steven about caring for Mother Earth.

“If you want to protect the environment, you’ve got to do something,” he said. “You can’t just sit there.”

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