July 16, 2014

Merced River cleanup scheduled for Saturday

Volunteers in Snelling will roll up their sleeves on Saturday to pick up trash from the Merced River.

Volunteers will roll up their sleeves on Saturday to pick up trash from the Merced River.

The second annual cleanup effort begins at 8 a.m. at Henderson Park in Snelling, and continues along the river for several miles. Garbage bags and “grabber” tools will be provided, but volunteers are encouraged to bring whatever they need to pick up trash — rubber gloves, boots, a hat, sunscreen, or water.

Shore workers should wear shoes that they consider comfortable for rocks and weeds. Volunteers can stay for a few hours or work the entire day, according to organizers.

The Merced River has been home to discarded food wrappers, cardboard boxes, cans, bottles and even diapers, said Snelling resident Aleta Bauer. Volunteers plan to organize another cleanup at the end of September.

“It’s getting to be a larger problem and we need more people to deal with the quantity of garbage,” said Bauer, who’s also a board member of the Snelling Municipal Advisory Council. “There’s not enough supervision of what people are doing on the river.”

Bauer, 61, said enforcement is needed to protect the river and to stop people from polluting it with trash.

“This is a result of this area not being enforced with supervision,” Bauer said. “In my opinion, what it needs is enforcement of the laws that we have to protect our public lands.”

Merced County District 4 Supervisor Deidre Kelsey, who’s district covers Snelling, said the problem with garbage has been an ongoing struggle for people who live near the river for years.

Kelsey said she hopes the individuals who abuse the public space will help clean it up.

“The water is basically a resource for everyone and they’re polluting it,” she said. “People don’t realize that when they leave their dirty diaper, broken raft or beer bottle in the river, that they’re passing their trash to other people to pick up.”

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