Long Beach Beachcomber CleanUp Article
Don’t forget the Great Los Angeles River CleanUp on Saturday, May 17, 2008
www.folar.org for more information
The Great LA River Cleanup Is Here
by Jody Cason
Spring is here, and the Friends of the Los Angeles River is inviting everyone to take part in their annual river cleanup. The event will be held at several different locations along the river on Saturday, May 17, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
There are two convenient locations that Long Beach residents can go to lend a helping hand. One of the sites is at the Willow Estuary, located near the 710 freeway and Willow St. Further south is the Golden Shore Wetlands, which is at the end of the 710 freeway off Golden Shore Ave.
This will be the 19th year the organization has held this event. Lewis MacAdams, the founder and chairman of the board, said he started the project because he wanted to do something positive in the Los Angeles area. He also wanted to convince people that there was actually a river running through this great metropolis.
“It was a dual purpose,” he said. “I wanted to clean up the river and introduce people to the river at the same time.”
A mere 30 people showed up at the first event, but it has since grown to be the largest urban river cleanup in the nation. Nowadays there is anywhere from 3,000 to 3,500 people who participate in this event every year.
MacAdams is particularly concerned about Long Beach , where the uncollected trash ends up at the river’s end.
“ Long Beach is the proof if we’re doing a good job cleaning up the river,” he said. “It can be especially dangerous to the wildlife in the estuary and the bay.”
Over 25 tons of garbage is collected from the riverbed each year. Large items such as phone booths, hot water heaters and televisions have been pulled from the river, as well as an endless supply of shopping carts.
There are plenty of unusual pieces to be found at the river as well. Several headless Barbies have been retrieved, and even a pair of ruby red slippers bound tightly in its package has been discovered.
The highest volume of trash collected is plastic — especially plastic bags. Executive Director Shelly Backlar said that there is also plenty of fast food waste.
“We find a lot of chip bags and candy wrappers because they stick to the vegetation in and around the river,” she said. “I find it distressing because that kind of stuff can be easily thrown away.”
Most of the weight hauled away is due to the various metals that are found, especially abandoned shopping carts.
The organization is doing more and more each year to get this tremendous problem under control. Currently, they have smaller scale cleanups about three times a year. This project is called River School Days, where school children collect trash at the river as well as learn about it at the same time.
Last October the first River School Day in Long Beach was held at the Willow Estuary. About 500 school children turned up for the occasion, and it was so successful that it is now going to become an annual event.
There are some recommendations for anyone who wants to be part of this cause. Backlar said participants should bring sturdy shoes, sun protection and water. Volunteers should also wear clothes they can get dirty in, along with some heavy-duty gloves.
There will be free tee shirts given out to the first 100 volunteers at each site. Everyone will be given a free reusable tote bag made out of recycled plastic, “to remind people that there are simple things we can do daily to help the environment,” Backlar said.
Backlar is not only one of the organizers of the event, she has also been a participant.
“It was really amazing for me to be on the other side. It was interesting just to see what was tangled up down there,” she said. “It gave me another perspective of the enormity of what we have to do for the river.”
MacAdams said he has never missed a day of the cleanup as far as he can remember.
“It’s a good way to spend a Saturday morning. It’s good for your soul, and it’s good for the river,” he said. “People don’t usually come away from the river without a smile on their face.”
For more information and complete details on site locations, go to www.folar.org., or call (323) 223-0585.
Friends of the Los Angeles River
570 W. Avenue 26, #250
Los Angeles, CA 90065
323 223-0585 phone
323 223-2289 fax
- So sorry, I seem to be working or out of town every time you have an event this year.
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