3.4 Tons of Trash Removed During Great Sierra River Cleanup

A volunteer with the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust poses with the 1942 butane tank that the group removed from the San Joaquin River watershed during the 2019 Great Sierra River Cleanup.

AUBURN, Calif. September 21, 2019 – Today was the perfect day to pick up the pieces – the trash pieces that is – especially in the Sierra Nevada, where more than 700 volunteers took time out of their busy schedule to help remove garbage from rivers, lakes, streams, and associated riparian zones during the 11th annual Great Sierra River Cleanup.

“Participation in the Great Sierra River Cleanup was amazing again this year,” said Julie Alvis, Sierra Nevada Conservancy Deputy Executive Officer. “The incredibly high number of volunteers and the energy they brought today just goes to show how much Californians care about nature and the Sierra Nevada.”

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Coordinated by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy in partnership with dozens of local community groups, and in conjunction with the California Coastal Cleanup Day, this exciting and rewarding event focuses on keeping Sierra waterways clean and promoting community stewardship. Considering these waterways are in many Sierra residents’ backyards and provide downstream communities with clean, fresh water and places to gather with family and friends – it’s an event that brings all Californians together.

“It never ceases to amaze me how something as special as the Sierra can bring us all together. The people who came out today to help pick up ugly trash that may taint our precious water supplies are not just locals, as one might imagine, but folks from all over the Golden State,” added Alvis.

In the past 10 years, volunteers have pulled nearly 860 tons of trash and recyclables from more than 3,000 miles of river in the Sierra watersheds. After today, those totals continue to rise almost as fast as our passion for recreating in the great Sierra outdoors.

Some of the items collected today include shopping carts, scrap metal, furniture, and more. A Styrofoam airplane, a crockpot, and a butane tank from 1942 were some of the more unusual items discovered.

Volunteers with the Kern River Conservancy gather for a group photo during the 2019 Great Sierra River Cleanup.

Today’s cleanup officially marks the end to the Sierra Nevada Watershed Protection Week, which ran from Sept. 15 – Sept. 21. More than 60 percent of the state’s developed water supply comes from the Sierra and its natural beauty and recreation opportunities attract millions of visitors each year. In recognition of the Sierra Nevada’s importance to California, legislators passed a measure in 2015 officially designating the third week in September as a time to raise awareness about this crucial region.

Results from this year’s event, a list of participating organizations, and additional event information are available at www.sierranevada.ca.gov/rivercleanup. Photos will be shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About the Sierra Nevada Conservancy

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) is a state agency whose mission is to improve the environmental, economic, and social well-being of the 25-million-acre Sierra Nevada Region. The SNC leads the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program (WIP), a large-scale restoration program designed to restore the health of California’s primary watershed and create resilient Sierra Nevada Communities. Additional information about the SNC and the WIP can be found at sierranevada.ca.gov.