Today we have a guest blog post from Creek to Bay site captain, Jon Green! We interviewed Jon on the highlights of C2B, why he started captaining, and what the weirdest item was he found during a cleanup…
Creek to Bay is such a great event for Back Country Land Trust (BCLT) to participate in because it helps us achieve our goal of cleaning up Alpine’s creeks and streams that flow into the San Diego River. The one-day, County-wide effort also helps BCLT and our volunteers here in Alpine to feel connected to the larger community throughout San Diego. Without events like this, and the support of so many dedicated people, trash would just accumulate in our waterways, eventually finding it’s way to the ocean and coastline. These types of community clean-up events are an inspiring way to “make the world a better place” by doing your own little part to help clean up the mess that would otherwise just be endlessly accumulating around us.
I was invited to participate in Creek to Bay in 2013 by ILACSD, and jumped at the opportunity to work in partnership with such a great non-profit partner in BCLT’s efforts to clean up and restore Alpine’s creeks and streams. For over two years, BCLT has been cleaning up Alpine’s waterways that lead to the San Diego River through our watershed stewardship program. Partnering with ILACSD for this event was just a natural fit for us to continue to engage the San Diego community in being good stewards of their watershed, and to enhance our impact in clearing trash and debris from our rivers. I’m proud to be a leader in this effort as a Creek to Bay Site Captain. It’s how I do my part to create positive change in the world.
Through our watershed stewardship program, BCLT is working with over 40 private landowners throughout Alpine to clear trash and restore habitat along Alpine’s waterways that flow into the San Diego River. Volunteers who come out to participate in BCLT watershed events, like Creek to Bay, get the chance to see some beautiful creek-side riparian areas that would otherwise be completely unavailable to the public because these are mainly private residences. The site we’ll be working on in 2014 for example is a 9-acre private property that stretches along Alpine Creek (at the intersection of Alpine Boulevard and Tavern Road). Oak and sycamore provide a shady canopy for a park-like setting beneath the trees, where Alpine Creek flows through rocky stream-banks and open clearings, colored with wild grape leaves and California holly-berry, or Toyon. Since this land is private property, this event will provide a unique opportunity for volunteers to see some of this amazing riparian habitat for themselves since BCLT is working in partnership with the landowner.
It’s inspiring to see so many people working together to keep San Diego’s waterways clean and beautiful. Events like these build a sense of place in our small foothill community that keeps us tied to a “bigger picture” within San Diego. We may live “up the hill” here in Alpine, but everyone lives downstream from someone, and we are all truly connected by our waterways. This event is our annual “reminder” to the community that we all live in the same watershed.
Unfortunately, we find a lot of household waste dumped off the side of the road, probably because people would rather dump it illegally than pay fees for disposal at a waste facility (ed. note: learn how you can dispose of hazardous waste at WasteFreeSD.org). Some of the more unusual items we’ve found throughout our watershed clean-up efforts include: a stolen ATM machine; a safe with no door (and sadly, no money); gallons of used motor oil thrown off of the road shoulder; a bathtub; and weirdly, a bag full of goat skulls. Unfortunately, we haven’t found anything really charismatic, mostly just disgusting trash that should not be anywhere near the creek.
In 2013, we pulled nearly 5,000 pounds of trash from Alpine Creek during the Creek to Bay event. Alpine Creek is the single largest pollution source flowing into El Capitan Reservoir, which is the City of San Diego’s main surface water catchment for drinking water, municipal use, etc. Any trash that we can remove from the creeks in Alpine, saves the taxpayers and agencies time and money from having to remove it and clean up the pollution later before that water reaches the tap in your kitchen sink. If Creek to Bay volunteers want to work in a more natural, rural setting AND make a difference in the headwaters of the San Diego River, then this is their chance to help us clean up the creeks here in Alpine.
We also have some AMAZING places to explore after the event while volunteers are here in town, like BCLT’s own Wright’s Field Nature Preserve (open to the public for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding), and of course the Alpine Beer Company for lunch / dinner afterward! Anyone willing to make the 30-minute drive to Alpine surely won’t be disappointed with the unparalleled natural scenery and local craft beer we have up here in the foothills. Come on out to join us in cleaning up Alpine’s watershed during Creek to Bay, or any of our other BCLT events.
Thanks for all your help, Jon! You can join Jon in Alpine or any of our other 90+ inland and coastal cleanup sites. Learn more and register today!