By Eric Caldwell
Triplicate Staff Writer
Kayaks and Jeeps and people. Oh my!
Thats what will be used to spiff up the Smith River and adjacent areas Saturday.
April is Earth Month. The Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority and a number of other local, state and national agencies have devoted themselves to accomplishing a monumental task of cleaning up the river and its banks, aided by the volunteer effort and support of the community.
According to Michael Penney, recovery field technician for the Solid Waste Management Authority, last years river cleanup was a large success.
We pulled out a little over 8,000 pounds of waste. As the years have gone by, weve been getting less and less and less. Its really a good and positive thing to see less waste, Penney said.
This year, the effort is being expanded into more areas. According to Penney, Kayakers will be floating down the river and spotting areas that have particular types of waste. They will then make a geological map of the river with the waste sites targeted.
The Redwood National and State Parks, along with the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Fish and Game, will take charge of the cleanup of those isolated areas, according to John Theuerkauf, recreation technician for the forest service.
Joining the agencies efforts to remove litter from remote places, a local four-wheel-drive Jeep club, RCJS, will also aid in the cleanup effort. They will be breaking off into teams and going into canyon areas around the river that have not been accessible in recent cleanups, Penney said.
RCJS Public Relations Officer Jon Westerman is excited about the effort.
We enjoy our clean mountains. When you go up there to visit, you dont want a bunch of garbage laying around, he said.
Tread lightly and dont litter is the motto and message RCJS conveys to other off-road clubs and anyone who uses public lands.
According to Westerman, the Jeep club will target areas off of Low Divide, High Divide and Rowdy Creek roads. Using winches, trailers and elbow grease, the club members and their families will remove as much litter as possible.
The majority of these locations are shooting areas that have become disposal sites, Theuerkauf said.
People drag washing machines and whatever else out there to use as target practice and just leave them.
The cleanup effort will kick-off at 10 a.m. Saturday. Volunteers are to meet at the Hiouchi Information Center.
People usually filter in between 10 a.m. and noon and then find their favorite spot along the river and clean it up, said Theuerkauf.
The California Conservation Corps and Americorps will help with the effort.
They have done wonders in years past cleaning up disposal sites, Theuerkauf said.
Cleaning up one of the most pristine rivers in America is the primary goal of this event.
The river cleanup is progressing quite well. Through the joint efforts of everybody, the litter is slowly but surely becoming less and less, said Penney.
I think all of us who live in Del Norte County should have something to be very proud of, because we do clean up our area, he added.
All participants in this years river cleanup will get a free camping pass for one night good through May 22 for Jedediah Smith or Panther Flat campgrounds.
If people are good enough to give us a hand, well, they deserve a free night of camping, said Theuerkauf.
The river cleanup will be held rain or shine.
For more information, call the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority at 465-1100.