Notes from the Field: Celebrating National River Cleanup Day

Volunteers spent National River Cleanup Day picking up trash at Damon Slough in Oakland.

On May 19, 2012 over 30 volunteers converged to Damon Slough, a designated Save The Bay trash hotspot, in the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline in Oakland to get out in the marsh and help out our beloved San Francisco Bay.  Many hands make light work and STB Volunteers proved it again by removing approximately 400lbs of trash in just under 3 hours.  Click the photo to watch a video of the event.

Every day, runoff pollution from our streets and neighborhoods, such as plastic bags, Styrofoam containers, cigarette butts and chip bags, blow into storm drains and flow through creeks, where it discharges into the Bay untreated. This is the single largest source of Bay pollution, and there are many consequences:

  • Twenty-four waterways that flow into the Bay are so filled with trash that they violate the federal Clean Water Act standards
  • Trash kills wildlife, smothers wetlands and spoils water quality
  • Up to 70% of the toxics in the San Francisco Bay like oil, sewage, mercury, pharmaceuticals and e-waste come from polluted runoff
  • Save The Bay estimates that one million bags end up in the Bay every year

Despite all these daunting facts and numbers, there is hope!

Our dynamic wetlands can sequester a lot of these pollutants, break down some over time and physically capture litter allowing inspired volunteers a chance to right our wrongs and clean up our mess.  The immediate impact is profound after volunteer efforts like those at Damon Slough.  Where plastic trash once glistened in the sun, the water and Pickleweed are clearly visible after the hard work of our volunteers.  It’s not the most glamorous work, but STB volunteers come and leave with smiles, knowing we can make a positive difference one slough at a time.

Click here to learn more about preventing trash from entering our waterways in the first place.

Marc Siedel, Restoration Projects Team Leader