The Sierra Nevada watershed provides over 60% of California’s developed water supply and approximately 50% of water flowing into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta which, in turn, provides water to 25 million Californians and three million acres of agricultural land. Water that is not used or diverted flows through the bay which helps keep salinity from moving upstream and then flows out to the ocean. It is undeniable that this water source is of insurmountable value to the residents of California. Unfortunately, a common denominator for the waterways of the Sierra Nevada is the hundreds of thousands pounds of litter that pollute this precious resource.
Litter, which is considered manmade materials, does not always remain stagnant; often times it migrates and 80% of the litter found in the ocean is due to land based sources. Litter has a severe environmental impact for all waterways. Litter leads to animal entanglement which inhibits mobility, breathing, and eating, causing injury or even death. Ingestion of litter can cause choking and injury. Litter also disrupts the natural habitat. Industrial discharges and poor garbage management can introduce pathogens and chemicals into the waterways which has detrimental effects for all organisms, including humans. Additionally, debris in and around recreational waterways can cause injury to those enjoying the outdoors; when polluted waterways prevent people from utilizing this natural playground, it negatively impacts the community.
Placer Land Trust tries to do their part in reducing the amount of garbage reaching the ocean by participating annually in the Great Sierra River Cleanup, a cleanup now in its 7th year. This annual cleanup is organized by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and is in conjunction with the California Coastal cleanup day. On September 19, nearly 60 volunteers came to help Placer Land Trust clear trash from the Miner’s Ravine trail in Roseville. We broke up into ten teams and picked up approximately 650 pounds of trash on nearly 5 miles of the trail, diverting it from the local waterways.
Preliminary results from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy indicate that an estimated 2,833 volunteers turned out to remove more than 61 tons of trash and recyclables from sites up and down the Sierra Nevada region on September 19. During the first six years of the Great Sierra River Cleanup, more than 24,000 volunteers have joined together to remove nearly 700 tons of trash and recyclables from watersheds throughout the Sierra Nevada, all in an effort to help keep our water clean for all users. To get involved or for more information, visit http://www.sierranevada.ca.gov/our-work/rivercleanup.