A handful of new volunteers joined the Stanislaus River Watch group on Saturday, Feb. 6, rolling up their sleeves, armed with trash bags, trash-pickers, and a can-do attitude to help clean up the shores of the mighty Stanislaus River.
Stanislaus River Watch started five years ago with a core group of volunteers, dedicated to keeping the Stanislaus River clean and presentable, rain or shine, and even through the pandemic but new energy was appreciated.
“Andrea Gilbert treated us all to a hot chocolate from Dutch Bros. It was very nice and appreciated by the volunteers,” said Bonnie Jones-Lee, Stanislaus River Watch member.
Saturday’s clean-up removed 1,180 pounds of trash picked up from the river behind the Costless shopping center, under the bridge and beyond the bridge toward the senior center.
“We routinely pick up around a half-ton of trash each month,” Jones-Lee shared. “Our mission is to have a healthy, clean river that provides recreational opportunities for the residents of Oakdale to enjoy.”
Generally, the volunteers clean up one to four homeless camps a month.
“We have picked up wet mattresses, rugs, tables, clothing, pallets, and lots of cardboard,” Jones-Lee said.
An ongoing issue stems from well-intentioned citizens. Dropping off donations at The Hope Chest when the store is closed creates an opportunity for the transient community to haul off the donations for their river encampments.
“If they want their donations to The Hope Chest to actually end up where they intend, please don’t leave any items behind the Hope Chest when they are not receiving donations,” said Jones-Lee. “The unmonitored items generally end up at the river.”
Anything from toys to bags of clothes have been found down along the river’s edge, creating a hazardous and unsightly environment for recreational river use. As warmer weather approaches, residents will start dusting off their kayaks, boats, and assorted river gear. It’s the coordinators’ hope that the beauty of the Stanislaus River can safely be enjoyed by everyone.
Stanislaus River Watch meets the first Saturday of every month at 9 a.m. in the Costless parking lot.