Early Saturday morning, September 26, over 150 eager volunteers arrived at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve and began a thorough cleanup of Haskell Creek and its adjacent watershed, a stretch of water a half-mile long. They included all ages and demographics, participating as individuals, families, and school and corporate groups. Each shared a passionate commitment to cleaning the creek and surrounding habitat of all types of urban refuse – which, if not removed, could be washed down the Creek, into the L.A. River, and into the Pacific by the winter rains.
The volunteers removed 3,350 pounds of trash. Consider: this half mile of Haskell creek accounted for over ten percent of what was cleaned from one of over 70 cleanup sites of this Coastal Cleanup Day. This annual event was sponsored by the California Coastal Commission and organized in Los Angeles County by Heal the Bay – and of course San Fernando Valley Audubon at this site.
By noon, the entire area was spotless and the many bags of trash were neatly piled up along the path for disposal by employees from the L.A. City Department of Recreation and Parks.
The event was not only work. Participants were also invited to visit the educational tables of the Friends of the L.A. River, SFVAS, and the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains (RCD). The RCD also offered varied activities to help participants understand why Haskell Creek and the Wildlife Reserve are so important to protect.
The reason that our Haskell Creek site collected significantly more than its fair share of trash seems to be the growing problem of homeless individuals in the Sepulveda Basin and surrounding areas. Various public agencies are trying to alleviate the situation. On this Saturday Rangers from the L.A. City Recreation and Parks Department were working at improving the situation upstream of the Wildlife Reserve. It is fortunate that so many volunteers contributed their important effort and energy. The Wildlife Reserve, the creek, and the waterways downstream will benefit.