Auburn State Recreation Area cleanup tackles trashed canyon sites

Saturday event aided by PARC, Pacific Gas & Electric, State Parks Foundation
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Hundreds of volunteers will be taking out the trash in the American River Canyon on Saturday. The Earth Week cleanup brings volunteers together with several organizations in a major annual spring effort to remove litter and spruce up the canyon near Auburn. Eric Peach, a Protect American River Canyons (PARC) board member, said Thursday that volunteers will fan out along both the middle and north forks of the American River from the confluence near the city to not only collect discarded garbage. “Work will also include minor trail maintenance, removal of invasive non-native plant species and graffiti removal,” Peach said. The Auburn-based PARC will be working with the California State Parks Foundation, which is holding its 15th annual Earth Day restoration and cleanup around the state. Among the projects are cleanups at both the Auburn State Recreation Area in Placer County and at the Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park in Folsom. Other partners in the Auburn State Recreation Area cleanup, which has been taking place on a twice-yearly basis for much longer than the foundation campaign, include Pacific Gas & Electric, State Parks and Recology Auburn-Placer. Rex Maynard, an Auburn resident and mountain biker, said that the work being done Saturday is as important as ever. While the dumping of garbage over the Foresthill Bridge has been curtailed by construction at the site, there are plenty of other areas needing attention, he said. “The clean-up has been going on for decades,” Maynard said. Maynard has seen the Western States Trail that passes through the Auburn State Recreation Area first-hand as a finisher in the Western States 100-mile endurance run. Today, he rides a mountain bike on many of the trails now available to canyon visitors. And he continues to find and pick up trash. “I moved here in 1972 and was soon hiking and running the trails,” Maynard said. “I started picking up candy wrappers and beer cans, and eventually progressed to cutting up abandoned cars.” Retired State Parks Ranger Roger Hood said much of the Auburn State Recreation Area cleanup will take place in the heavily visited confluence area off Highway 49 and on the El Dorado County side on or near Knickerbocker Flat trails. “There’s a lot of trash that has been illegally dumped and we want to make the area look really nice again,” Hood said. The area under the Foresthill Bridge was relatively clean because of an ongoing bridge earthquake retrofit and paint project that has kept security higher, he said. “We haven’t had things like television sets and bowling balls being thrown off this year,” Hood said. Organizers say free Starbucks coffee and Whole Foods wraps will be available to volunteers as an added inducement, while supplies last. The event is also mounting a food drive, with non-perishable food donations being accepted to be forwarded to the Placer County Food Bank. Registrants will be provided with a free confluence map, while supplies last, trash collection bags, water and snacks. They are also being encouraged to wear sturdy shoes, bring gloves and a water bottle. What: Spring American River Cleanup When: 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 14 Where: Volunteers can sign in at the American River Confluence