Clean Roads Start with YOU: Simple Ways to Reduce Pollution

Photo Credit : Alan Dep, Marin Independent Journal

By: Vicki Dehnert

The debris you see on the shoulders of our Bay Area roads is more than just unsightly. It’s also a threat to our environment and natural habitat.  I co-founded Marin Clean Highways to help address this issue in Marin County. I’m also excited to partner with Save The Bay to highlight the failure of Caltrans—the agency in charge of our state highways—to keep Bay Area roads clean and prevent trash from polluting the Bay.

There are actions your community can take to improve areas that are not under Caltrans’ control.  In Marin County, we created a consortium, “Clean Marin” comprised of many other local organizations concerned with the environment (my organization, Marin Clean Highways, is just one of several).  By banding together, we now have a more powerful voice when we speak with our elected officials about our environmental concerns. We were so successful in growing our base of organizations that Marin County Department of Public Works now spearheads our efforts — a perfect example of private-public collaboration.

Our Successes are a blueprint for your successes.

Here are four strategies to rid your community of trash and save the Bay.

  • Push to get highway shoulder areas adopted through Caltrans’ “Adopt A Highway” program.

Keep a close eye on the adoptee areas—we found a few were underperforming with minimal cleanups and asked Caltrans to intervene. We are happy to report that things have improved.

  • Sound off about illegal unsecured loads being carried in the back of pickup trucks.

Debris spills out of trucks daily, and although state law requires loads to be secured, the law is often not enforced by local CHP due to workforce shortages. Our community is looking at ways to raise funds needed for hiring off-duty CHP patrol officers to specifically enforce these laws. Also, through our efforts, our local waste management company allows us to distribute tarps and educational materials to unsecured trucks entering their facility.

  • Rally local businesses and residents to raise funds that will help remove weeds and trash from highways and frontage roads.

In Marin County, many of the frontage roads to Highway 101 are full of trash and weeds. Marin Clean Highways raised funds from businesses and residents to contract with the San Rafael Downtown Streets Team to pick up frontage road litter on a weekly basis. What a difference this has made!

  • Attend city and county meetings to let your elected officials know how important clean highways are to your community.

In recent years, city and county budgets were pared down, and litter cleanup is not a priority. Share your sentiments and concerns with elected officials that serve your community.

We have a long way to go to get the clean roads and environment we want. But when we work together, across the nine Bay Area counties, our local success, however small, can become something much greater and help make the Bay Area better.

As Co-Founder of Marin Clean Highways, Vicky Dehnert is on a mission to reduce trash pollution across the Bay Area. She is a former educator who switched gears to high tech. Vicky has called Marin home for the last eight years.

Weekly Roundup November 30, 2012

weekly roundup

It’s crab season! As we look forward to adding this iconic local crustacean to our holiday tables, few of us stop to think about the role our very own Bay plays in ensuring a bountiful crab harvest. It’s going to be a good year for crab. More in the good news department: populations of Coho salmon are arriving early to spawn in Marin creeks this year, due, most likely, to early rainfall. But it could also be a sign of recovering populations. The beginning of the rainy season is also sparking necessary discussion of how to best prepare for the inevitable floods that sea level rise will cause in coastal communities nationwide. California is a model for the rest of the country in planning for higher waters. To ease the transition away from single-use bags (a Bag Ban goes into effect January 1 ), Alameda county is offering an exchange this Saturday: one single use bag for one reusable. And if you’re looking for a gift this holiday season, buy a Bay Sustainer membership for a friend. They’ll get an Oaklandish t-shirt to wear proudly and the Bay will benefit.

KQED 11/24/2012
Let the Cracking Begin! Dungeness Crab Season is Underway
While the crabs are caught between 3-40 miles offshore, they spend a great deal of their lives in estuaries. Juvenile Dungeness crabs lose their shells as they grow, this process of molting helps them to grow new, larger shells. During these periods, they head into the San Francisco Bay for protection. They hide out in the eel grass and eat fish, mollusks, and other crustaceans before heading out to the deep waters. At times they even seek protection in clamshells.
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Marin Independent Journal 11/26/2012
Endangered coho salmon make early return to Marin creeks
“The 2012-13 spawning season is off to an auspicious start,” said Eric Ettlinger, aquatic ecologist for the Marin Municipal Water District, which oversees the watershed. “We’ve already received 12.5 inches of rain — far above average for this time of year — and with the rains come the salmon.”
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L.A. Times 11/27/2012
California confronts a sea change
Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey don’t need to wait on gridlocked Washington to confront future risks from climate-change intensified storms. They can instead look at how California is already moving forward on common-sense adaptations, and do it themselves.
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Alameda Patch 11/28/2012
Getting Ready for the Plastic Bag Ban Locally and County-Wide
The plastic bag ban is upon Alameda and the rest of the County.
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Greeneroo 11/27/2012
Consider Donating to Save The Bay
It’s that time of year. You can vote on what’s important by HOW you spend money. Watching TV tells me that we should buy cars, diamonds, and expensive “toys”. But there is another way:
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Oaklandish 11/19/2012
5 reasons the Bay needs your local love
Save The Bay grew out of Berkeley in 1961. Back in those days, there were plans to fill 60 percent of the Bay, the public had access to less than six miles of shoreline, and the water was choked with raw sewage and industrial pollution.
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