By Natalie Carter
Saturday morning, September 15th as the sun comes up, hundreds of community volunteers will gather in the parking lots of Hooker Oak Park and the Annie K Bidwell Parlor. Check-in stations and empty dumpsters will be waiting for volunteers to participate in the largest round up of trash and recyclables in Chico. In small groups, formed in advance or on the spot, volunteers will be supplied with trash bags, pickers, buckets, and coffee before they are sent out to clean every creek in Chico- in just over 3 hours! Hosted by Butte Environmental Council since 1988, this year will be the 31st annual Bidwell Park and Chico Creeks Cleanup.
Volunteers will scour the creek beds and banks for items left behind, dumped illegally, blown in to the creeks, or carried by stormwater. They will remove everything they find, from refrigerators and mattresses, to styrofoam containers, plastic straws, cans, bottles, tiny bits of trash (know as microtrash), and everything in between. Hazardous materials like batteries, automotive fluids, paints, and more will also be removed (some with the help of trained professionals). There is always something unusual to be found. In past years, volunteers removed a boat, a rubber chicken, a croquet set, musical instruments, and a giant stuffed moose.
As volunteers move through the town collecting everything to be found, they will haul bags of trash and buckets of recyclables out of the creeks and leave them in piles along the road. Volunteers in trucks will drive up and down, collecting the piles left by volunteers and returning them to the check in sites. In some areas where the banks of the creek are too steep or clogged with vegetation to get to the street, City staff will use special equipment from bridges to pull piles out from the creek beds. Each year, tons of waste is removed from the waterways; waste that would have otherwise polluted waters downstream, some eventually making its way to the ocean, impacting both the aquatic species and their habitat.
Once the bags and buckets make it back to the check in sites, volunteers will sort through every item to ensure that recyclables, scrap metal, usable clothes and blankets, and other items are diverted from the landfill.
When the work is over, the party begins! BEC celebrates the accomplishments of all the volunteers by holding an entirely free volunteer appreciation barbeque at Sierra Nevada Brewery, with burgers cooked by Madison Bear Garden, snacks from Lundberg Family Farms, games, live music, a prize drawing with a new bike donated by Pullins Cyclery, and for those over 21, a beer.
Over the last three decades, more than 30,000 volunteer hours have been spent investing in local water quality, wildlife habitat, and pristine natural spaces for Chico’s citizens. Volunteers are encouraged to register in advance at www.becnet.org, but pre-registration is not required. Everyone is invited and there are tasks for all ages and all levels of skills and abilities! So mark your calendars, invite your friends, and make a difference, not only in our community, but for all those downstream.
31st Annual Bidwell Parks and Chico Creeks Cleanup
Saturday, September 15, 2018
9:00 am to 12:30 pm
Check in at Hooker Oak Park or Annie K Bidwell Parlor
For more information, contact
Butte Environmental Council,
Call: (530) 891-6424,
Email: watershed@becnet,org, or check out the
website at www.becnet.org.