Aug 7 River Cleanup on the South Fork American

rafter cleaning up the South Fork American RiverJoin El Dorado County River Patrol for their 17th annual South Fork American River clean-up at 9am on Thursday, August 7, 2008, meeting in Henningsen Lotus Park in Lotus. There will be a post-event BBQ and a drawing for prizes from event sponsors.

This is a team effort! Local Coloma-Lotus valley commercial rafting outfitters, businesses and residents all step up to keep this popular waterway clean and beautiful. Other consistent participants are employees of area state parks, the Bureau of Land Management, and the El Dorado County Sheriff Department — as well as noncommercial boating organizations, member and staff of the American River Conservancy, and private boaters from abroad.

raft full of American River trashSo there is a place for you and your organization on this helpful day! If you and your group are comfortable braving blackberry bushes and dodging poison oak — if you enjoy rafting and getting out often to hike along the shore and in side channels CAREFULLY over slick and unstable rocks — if you like to see what interesting items you can haul out of the river and carry to the trash truck — then you too can get the feeling of satisfaction of keeping this gorgeous river corridor clean.

RVs in South Fork American River floodAccording to El Dorado County Parks River Recreation Supervisor Noah Rucker-Triplett, river clean-up heros remove all sorts of things that don’t belong in the river. The New Year’s Day flood of 2006 washed RVs and many other objects into the South Fork, some of which is still getting collected. Trash from boaters and inner-tubers (cans, plastic water bottles) is always found on shore. More historically, various metal pieces from past mining, dam building, bridges, etc. are always being uncovered by the constant turning over of the river bottom. Unfortunately, people like to throw stuff off bridges, so volunteer crews also pick up a few tires, appliance parts, fence stakes, culverts, parking cones, picnic tables, wire, cable, etc., every year. Consistently 1-2 trucks of trash are collected at each clean-up. Now that is a good feeling.

unloading trash from the raftsIf you like this event and want to do another, or can’t make this date and wish you could, you’re in luck — the county does 2-3 cleanups per year. For even more active fun, look for notice of a low water river clean-up which involves swimming and diving in the Class 2 section in the Valley.

Of course, prevention is even more important, and is also the law. Noah suggests two easy ways to keep trash out of the river in the first place: bring a mesh bag that ties shut, or a cooler with a secured lid, on your river trip to pack out your trash. Also, if you live along the river, during the winter, move items out of the 10-year flood plain. It is also a good idea to leave a spare key with a neighbor so your vehicle or RV so it can moved in a flood emergency.

To RSVP for the 8/7 clean-up, or to ask questions, call River Patrol at (530) 626-7225. Thanks for helping, and enjoy the food and prizes after your hard work!