SFVAS celebrated Earth Day 2019 early with a hugely successful cleanup of Haskell Creek in the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve. The April 13 event saw a threefold increase in our usual number of volunteers for this annual springtime effort, from around 50 to 150.
Partnerships with Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) and the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains (RCD) helped tremendously in getting a greater number of outstanding volunteers this year. Other organizations and many individuals made huge contributions.
Nick Figueroa and Allen Aguas, the two new Army Corps of Engineers Park Rangers whose assignments include the Sepulveda Basin, waded into the creek in waders, removing an unpleasantly amazing amount of shopping carts and other large items of trash. Volunteers Nicole Karvelas and Tyler Wolfe put on waders provided by the RCD and did the same.
The RCD,our partner in the Sepulveda Basin Environmental Education Program (SBEEP), provided filled reusable water bottles for volunteers. They set up an educational station at the northern Wildlife Lake viewing area where they provided microscopes with samples of plankton from the lake, as we do as part of our SBEEP field trips. They demonstrated water quality testing like we do in those field trips. They showed how clean water and pollution from the watershed impact the river and led tours of the Wildlife Reserve.
The LA River Master Plan provided a grant to the RCD to educate the public about water issues and the LA River watershed. For many people it was their first time visiting the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve. The cleanup drew them in and hopefully the activities gave them a better appreciation for and connection to the area and they will return.
We are lucky to have the two Army Corps park rangers working in Sepulveda Basin, although we share their time with several other Army Corps properties. Fortunately the Army Corps plans to add more park rangers for the region. We also hope that the City of Los Angeles will increase their staffing of city park rangers and assign a team to Sepulveda Basin full time.
Many SFVAS members were crucial to putting together the event, instructing the volunteers, equipping them with tools and gloves, replenishing supplies, or working alongside the other volunteers. The California Native Plant Society’s (CNPS) team that removes invasive weeds from the Wildlife Reserve contributed hugely too.
FoLAR staffed the event with a registration table to augment their online process. They provided swag for the earliest arrivals as well.
The city Department of Recreation and Parks provided trash bags and hauled off the filled bags and large items after the cleanup. They must have needed to make many trips to get rid of all the stuff. Hopefully efforts to reduce trash in our bodies of water will be fruitful and such huge cleanup efforts will become unnecessary.