Armed with loppers, shovels and other assorted tools, volunteers with the Del Norte Trail Alliance headed up the Craigs Creek trail Sunday to wage war on the poison oak, huckleberry and anything else that may impede the path.

“Trim for the future,” said Doug Winn, recreation manager for the Smith River National Recreation Area, who brought a few extra loppers for those who came empty handed.

Founded by Joe Gillespie, volunteers with the trail alliance have worked since January, clipping back tan oak, salal bushes and huckleberry and removing small trees and pulling up roots that have obstructed the trail. On Sunday Gillespie reached out with a gloved hand, grasped a poison oak by its stem and pulled, showing off its long root before throwing it over the trail’s edge.

“I’ve heard a lot of people hike this trail, or used to,” he said. “But there’s just too much poison oak. We started coming out in January, February and March, but we didn’t see any poison oak except we started seeing shoots of it with no leaves.”

A few yards up the path and Gillespie paused by a tree entwined with a poison oak vine.

“I like seeing it growing up trees, but it’s too close to the trail,” he said before yanking it out.

Volunteers with the Del Norte Trail Alliance, Surfriders Foundation Del Norte Chapter and Tolowa Dunes Stewards commemorated Earth Day by making their respective environments a prettier place.

For the Surfriders Foundation Del Norte Chapter, this included partnering with Local Boys Surf & Skate Shop to clean both South Beach and Pebble Beach.

Walter Mackelburg, president of the local Surfriders chapter, said another volunteer, paddleboarder Zach Going, led a cleanup at Garth’s Beach north of Pebble Beach.

“It was awesome,” he said. “I think we had close to 100 people throughout three cleanups, which is more than we’ve ever had.”

At the South Beach cleanup, volunteers were close to filling a 20-yard Recology dumpster, Mackelburg said. He estimated they picked up at least 15 yards of trash including debris from three homeless encampments. That material accounted for most of the 15 yards volunteers collected, Mackelburg said.

“The thing we pick up the most are cigarette butts and tiny pieces of plastic,” he said. “Bottle caps, water caps, the top of an oil containers; just caps are something that we find a lot of.”

Someone at the Pebble Beach cleanup may have found a chain belonging to the Brother Jonathan wreckage, Mackelburg said.

Kyra Seymour, of the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority, said they fished the chain out of the dumpster and will take it to the Del Norte Historical Society to determine where it came from.

Mackelburg said he appreciated DNSWMA Director Tedd Ward, who was able to waive dumpster fees.

“We really wouldn’t be able to do it without him,” Mackelburg said. “My hats are off to everyone that participated, all the volunteers, it made me really happy.”

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