Eel River Cleanup Crew: How One Man Started a Revolution
For over a year garbage has been piling up beside our roads–in nice neat bags suitable for carting to the dump. But it didn’t get there all by itself.
According to an Article in the Independent by Northern Mendocino’s newest blogger, Redway resident John Casali became aware of a health hazard–huge amounts of trash dumped on the banks of the Eel River. Some garbage was the result of local residents avoiding garbage fees by offloading mattresses and appliances and some was the result of large homeless encampments tossing their daily debris (including used hypodermic needles) alongside their living space. The Southern Humboldt area’s temperate weather and rural spaces attract many people whose financial situation makes renting impossible.
Casali attempted to get help cleaning up from government officials and received replies ranging from (I’m paraphrasing here) “Don’t touch the stuff. It’s could be dangerous” to “It’s the fault of the welfare system. We can’t help you.”
No Agency, state or county official was willing to take responsibility for change. Finally, Casali himself started collecting trash and with the help of numerous volunteers removed tons of garbage. The volunteers included some of the homeless, an environmental group–Friends of the Eel River, and even the Southern Humboldt Rescue Team led by Diana Totten who practiced their rappelling skills on steep cliffs and bagged up 3100 lbs of garbage at the same time.
Over 100,000 pounds of refuse has been pulled from the Eel River’s watershed. Most of it has been hauled out in gross, grubby bagfuls by volunteers but just recently there have been neatly bundled packages with thank you notes attached like the picture above.
The Eel River Cleanup Crew is building an informative website explaining their Mission statement, filled with their history, and with a heartfelt though somewhat blurry video. Right towards the end, there is a horrifying scene of one trash area from which pounds and pounds of used adult diapers were taken. Apparently, some meth users find defecating in their pants preferable to using the outdoors. Thanks to the hard work of one man who decided to pitch in and make a change those diapers and thousands of pounds more of trash won’t ever find their way into the Eel River and into the water systems of our local towns.
To date more than $30,000 have been spent on dump fees, gas, food for volunteers and payment for homeless workers. There is a need for much much more. Monetary donations for this effort may be sent to the Southern Humboldt Community Credit Union, 757 Redwood Driver, Garberville, CA 05542, (named Eel River Clean-up Fund). You can also make a Paypal donation.
I made a small donation in the past. I’m making a bigger donation today. How about joining in?