Local Channelkeeper volunteers collect trash at trails and turnouts
Even though Earth Day was last week, that didn’t stop Santa Barbara Channelkeeper’s Watershed Brigade volunteers from cleaning up trash in the community.
This time, to complement local Earth Day celebrations, the Brigade held a dispersed clean-up event Saturday into Sunday with a focus on front country trails and turnouts, where trash often accumulates.
A couple local volunteers who also volunteer with the National Marine Sanctuary and the National Park Service took to Hot Springs Trail in Montecito early Saturday morning with bags and trash pickers in hand.
“This particular trail has become very impacted with people from out of town coming here because there’s the aura of the natural hot spring, for one,” Richard Powell, one of the Brigade volunteers, told the News-Press. “The other thing is that the prince is down the street and I think any time people can be associated with Prince (Harry) they want to come.”
Mr. Powell said that many visitors will wait outside the royal couple’s gate for “hours on hours on hours,” so he and his local hiking friends avoid the trail due to congestion and lack of parking.
“We do a lot of work in the community in terms of other projects, so we’re involved with several grassroots environmental organizations here in town,” he said. “I guess you could say that’s our passion, you know?”
John Kuizenga expressed the importance of clearing out the trash on the trails that would otherwise end up going straight into the ocean.
“Little tiny pieces of plastic — fish and critters think it’s food and obviously, it has no nutritional value,” he told the News-Press. “Everything that gets in these creeks doesn’t go into the sewage plant. This stuff goes directly into the ocean and creeks, so it’s really important we spend time up here cleaning this.
“It’s too bad, in a way, that people like Channelkeepers have to take care of the creeks. I mean, they’ve got a lot of other responsibilities too, but they do, and I admire it.”
As they clean up trails, the volunteers said they find plastic, paper, beer bottles, cigarette butts and “all kinds of different things.” However, Mr. Kuizenga said that as the Channelkeeper volunteers collect the garbage, they keep a chart to find the source of a lot of the trash. In addition, they collect samples of water in certain polluted areas to find what could be polluting it as well.
Furthermore, the trash collectors could potentially play a part in permanent change down the road.
“Beer cans, at one point, had these little tabs that you pull up and they didn’t used to stay on the beer can. They’d come off,” Mr. Kuizenga said. “Well, as a result of finding so many of these things, manufacturers changed their way of doing business. They attach those now. The beer can might get left, but the tabs are still attached.
“Channelkeepers can give feedback to people in the business industry to see how they can alter their products so less (trash) gets in the ocean.”
To learn more about the Watershed Brigade’s efforts or to sign up for a location and time to collect trash, visit https://www.sbck.org/brigade/.