One Tire At A Time, Cleaning the San Joaquin River

September 21, 2009 9:19:53 AM PDT
Several dozen Central Valley volunteers continued clean up along the San Joaquin river Sunday. Action News reporter John-Thomas Kobos was there and found out how challenging it can be to remove the biggest culprit found in the water...tires. If you've ever gone fishing for tires...it's pretty much the same experience as regular fishing. Keep tension on the line and patiently reel it in.

"It's a big one," said volunteer Rachel Solo.

These volunteers, many students from Fresno State, are spending the weekend removing tires like this one from the San Joaquin river and other things that just don't belong.

Solo: "We found a safe yesterday, a refrigerator, a grill."

Solo is a senior psychology major. "Yesterday I kind of got a battle wound right here. We were really tied down on the canoe and the rapids took us into the trees a little bit but nothing to bad. We made it out ok," she laughed.

Each one of these volunteers is equally dedicated.

Some even got out of their canoe to drudge up a tire.

Volunteer coordinators said most of the tires are tossed from nearby roads.

Now they're on the road to recycling.

"So far we've pulled about 6,000 [or so] tires out of the river," said Richard Sloan.

And that's over a 5-year period.

Sloan with the River Tree Volunteers said sadly, the number continues to rise.

If it's not a tire it ends up in this bin. There's a sofa that no one will ever use again, a boat that was found at the bottom of the river and a refrigerator...all these items were pulled out of the San Joaquin.

The biggest challenge this group faces is access to the river.

Broken trails, dirt roads and hills prove tough obstacles but this weekend clean up crew said it's worth it.

"There's a group of committed individuals out here and that's all it takes," said the psych major.

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