San Joaquin River clean-up hauls tons of trash

FRESNO, Calif.

If you're searching for old appliances, used signs or even a baby stroller, look no further than the San Joaquin River.

Zachary Smith said, "We got like an engine from a car, a car door. Um, it's really amazing what people throw in here."

Smith is a freshman at Fresno State. Several of his classmates were among about a hundred volunteers who used canoes and kayaks to clean up three different parts of the river.

Richard Sloan is with Rivertree Volunteers, the nonprofit organization coordinated the two-day event. Last year they hauled away 13-tons of trash. This year it will be closer to 20.

"Why do you think there's been more dumping?

"Well, I think because there's very little oversight on the dumping on the San Joaquin River. At one point, code enforcement had camera boxes along the river and they seemed to have disappeared," said Richard Sloan.

Of all the items people dump into the San Joaquin River, volunteers say tires are the most popular. Over the course of two days, they've pulled out about 300 of them -- and that's just from one location.

Alexi Kimura said, "It's a lot of work; it takes so much work just for one tire to come out."

Volunteers say trash in the river makes the waterway unsafe for animals. It can also pollute people's drinking water which is why many say this massive effort is both worthwhile and necessary.

Rivertree Volunteers organize clean-up events every few months. They say, some of the items can be recycled, including tires, which can be crushed into mulch for planting or used for pavement material.

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