Scour power

Volunteers clear trash from canyon
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal Staff Writer
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Talk about spring cleaning. More than 100 volunteers got a workout Saturday morning collecting trash, rubble and recyclables during the American River cleanup at the American River confluence, an event coordinated just in time for Earth Day by Protect American River Canyons, or PARC, and the Auburn State Recreation Area with the help of many sponsors. “At 7:30 a.m. this place was packed,” said Paula Peach, of PARC. “They said, ‘OK, let’s get it done. Let’s do it.’” Volunteers scoured the area beneath the Foresthill Bridge and along the American River, finding all sorts of random items. “I’ve found over seven shoes — that was kind of weird — and we found someone’s lunch bucket,” said Alyssa Mader, 17, of Rocklin. Mader, a Rocklin High student, earned community service hours for her time on the river Saturday, but that wasn’t the only reason she came up to Auburn with her dad, Lothar Mader. “It’s a really nice area, and it’s really pretty, and it gets polluted, so it’s nice to help,” she said. Lothar Mader said this was his second year volunteering at the cleanup. “We like to hike in the Sierra and we’ve been up here hiking with our dog, so we want to help clean up,” he said. Placer High teacher Greg Robinson came out to the confluence Saturday with a group of about 20 students. “Nothing surprises me anymore,” he said, when asked if he’d come across anything strange during Saturday’s clean-up. “I’ve seen it all — shopping carts, lots of orange cones, unfortunately lots of electronics. There are so many recycling opportunities, but apparently it’s more fun to throw it off the bridge.” Andrea Rosenthal, a PARC board member, said she was happy with Saturday’s turnout. “What I like seeing is people coming out and picking up the trash,” she said. “People come down here and they swim and they hang out at the river, but they leave their trash.” A California Highway Patrol helicopter crew was there to help rein in the refuse. Volunteers throughout the area gathered bundles of trash into nets, which were picked up and transported by helicopter to a central site, where other volunteers then picked apart the pile, sorting trash and recyclable items accordingly. “We get five or six helicopter loads of trash because people like to throw stuff off the bridge,” Rosenthal said. Some items found Saturday were given new life. “We found curtains in the river, perfectly good curtains, today,” Rosenthal said. “Where did they come from? I’m going to take them home and wash them.” Eden Zorne, 6, of Auburn, carried bottle caps home in a bag — apparently someone else’s trash made for great arts-and-crafts supplies. What was Eden’s favorite thing about Saturday’s clean up? “Finding treasures,” she said, carefully holding a rescued golf ball. Nicole Zorne, Eden’s mother, said Saturday’s cleanup was a good lesson for her daughter. “I just think it’s good role-modeling for her, and I think it teaches her to respect the environment and keep it clean.” That’s a lesson people of all ages can learn, Peach said. “Besides cleaning up the trash, it’s also about trying to expose the community to what trails are out here, just to get them to know this area, the river, better,” she said. “If they don’t know where to go, they’re not going to be able to love it like we do.” Peach hopes events like Saturday’s will make people think twice about littering. “If you’ve ever hiked out in nature, you know it’s a real distraction to see garbage,” she said. “You start loving a place and respecting it, and you start taking care of it. It’s not fun to see old dirty diapers on a trail you’ve loved and cherished for years.” The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at, or comment online at