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Relief for the river

Event: Hundreds of people pick trash from the bed of the Santa Clara River on Saturday

Posted: September 18, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 18, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Adam Miller, 12, left, carries a broken water pipe as he and Clare Lauermann, 9, walk with a group from Boy Scout Troop 609 looking for trash in the riverbed at the Santa Clarita’s River Rally in Valencia on Saturday.

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The annual River Rally cleanup drew hundreds of participants on Saturday, and the event’s veterans said they believe it was the largest turnout yet.

“I was here personally in 1994 at the very first one, and there were 100 volunteers,” said event veteran and Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean, garbage bag in hand.

“The biggest change I’ve seen is the number of people who come out here every single year, and every year it gets bigger and bigger.”

Over the years, River Rally volunteers have picked up 339,000 pounds of trash, she said.

Four scouts from Cub Pack 527, all age 7, were asked what they expect to find in the dry river wash.

The answers from Drake, Wyatt, Cameron and Derek were: rattlesnakes, wrappers, water bottles and cans.

Canyon High School  student Kevin Nguyen, 17, returned to the cleanup Saturday after his first volunteer visit last year.

This year, he was joined by three of his classmates — Kayleigh, Kaitlynn and Maddie.

“What they can expect to find is a lot of exciting things among the trash,” he said.

Topping the list of concerns for Maddie Rossiter, however, was the prospect of encountering a rattlesnake.

All River Rally volunteers were required to attend a brief three-stage orientation, including lessons on what to do if they came across a rattlesnake.

“Step on top of logs and rocks, and not over them, and that’s because you don’t know what’s on the other side,” advised Crysta Dickson of PCR Services Corp., the city-contracted environmental firm overseeing the event.

Dickson, who’s worked the past nine River Rally events, said this year’s attendance seemed to be more than last year.

Maile Tanaka, a biologist with PCR monitoring the cleanup and shooting photographs, was looking out for plant and wildlife Saturday.

“This cleanup is going to enhance the quality of the habitat,” she said. “Having so many people in the stream can actually have negative effects, so we want to make sure there are no negative effects.”

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