Tip List: Bear Creek getting some attention

By Ameera Butt
abutt@mercedsunstar.com
January 18, 2012 

Bear Creek was crawling with the Merced County Crawdads cleanup crew last weekend in an effort to clean up the debris left behind after the water dried up.

The group collected about 10 bags of trash from the creek and around Applegate Park.

The 11-person crew cleaned the creek from under the bridge at

M Street to R Street, according to Tom Price, who is part of the group.

"We pulled three shopping carts, two saw blades, random stuff," Price said. "A lot of gross stuff like condoms and dirty blankets, stuff like that."

Trash in and around Bear Creek has been an issue for years, he said.

The Crawdads plan to clean up the creek at least once a month.

He said if Mercedians see people out making an effort to clean the town, maybe they will think twice about littering. "People care about the community. It's not hard to do the right thing," Price said.

The county, city and Merced Irrigation District make up the Merced County Streams Group, which works to ensure there is flood capacity in Bear Creek, according to Paul Fillebrown, public works director for the county. He said if they notice something that's going to break loose or channel up against a bridge, they'll pull it out.

"We clear brush and trees," he said. "If we found some large debris, we would pick it up and take care of it."

Stan Murdock, director of Public Works operations, said the group is allowed to clean one side of the bank a year. That allows the group to manage flood control. "They pull out as much trash as they find during the course of it," he said. This year, the north bank is being cleared of debris to maintain the channel.

The city has contact with Cal Fire crews who go through the creek and remove brush on the side of the bank.

"If they find trash, they pick it up," he said. "They are somewhat limited on what they can do. They can't enter the water channel itself. They can go into the dry bed."

That's because of restrictions and rules from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for the natural creeks, including Bear Creek.

He added it's the people who are littering who are ultimately responsible.

What's the problem: Trash in Bear Creek

Who's responsible: The people dumping trash in the creek.

What's being done: A community group is cleaning up the creek, and a crew working with the city goes in for brush and hazard removal. If they see trash, they pick it up.

Tip off the Tip List!

If you see something broken or in need of repair in your neighborhood, call the Sun-Star Tip List reporter, Ameera Butt, with your tips at (209) 385-2477 or email abutt@mercedsunstar.com.

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