Local volunteers banded together to get rid of garbage in and around the San Joaquin River over the weekend. Their work proved to be a huge success as they wound up hauling out 12 tons worth of junk.
“The San Joaquin River is beautiful. It's an important part of this area's ecology and we need to take care of it,” said Mark Soma, a political science professor at Fresno State.
Soma had four crews spread out along the river between Skaggs Bridge and Highway 99. The groups are comprised of 160 college & high school students and you wouldn't believe what they pull out of here.
“It's amazing we've had phone booths, washing machines, motor boats,” said Soma.
You can see there are worn out mattresses and corroded appliances too. But the most common item fished out and wheeled out of the water is tires. Crews hauled out a total of 347 this weekend alone.
“We’ve collected 7,200 tires in the past 8 years,” said Soma.
“Really when you think about it it's disgusting that this is the water the valley has to live off of," said Jason Pimentel, a Fresno State volunteer.
For two Clovis North students, this cleanup project fit right into their curriculum.
“They just started a class at our school called AP Environmental Science so we can be more environmentally conscious. So we thought we'd come out here and put those sorts of things to practice," said Josh Samra, a Clovis North volunteer.
Keeping the waterway free of litter is literally a dirty job, but these folks are happy to do it.
“Budgets are tight for everybody these days. Volunteers are especially important. The county doesn't have the time and resources or staff to do this kind of work and we're delighted to take up the slack,” said Soma.
This project was part of The Great Sierra River Cleanup, which took place at 100 sites across the state. Altogether crews picked up about 90,000 lbs. of trash.