Creek2Bay hits home for ILACSD staff

SONY DSCToday’s blog comes from Annie, our new Hotline Assistant! She joined the ILACSD team in February and now that she has settled into her new role, we’d like to officially introduce her to all of you! Read on to learn more about Annie and find out what made her first Creek to Bay Cleanup so meaningful.

First and foremost, I would like to introduce myself, my name is Anais “Annie” Rodriguez. I have been with the ILACSD team for a couple months as the newest Hotline Assistant. I assist hotline callers with their recycling questions and help maintain the County of San Diego’s Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste Database, www.WasteFreeSD.org. Before joining ILACSD, I graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Environmental Policy.

As a new team member at ILACSD, the Creek to Bay Cleanup was a completely new experience for me. I was eager to spend time with volunteers and to clean up my community. This year, the Creek to Bay media site was at Southcrest Community Park so this event really hit home for me, since I grew up a few blocks from the park and the areas we cleaned up.

Southcrest pano - Moriah

The day started a bit gloomy but cleared up right before the cleanup kick-off, perfect timing! Volunteers at the site were ready to get to work right after registering. I helped volunteers sign up for service projects and handed out supplies.

InvasiveSpeciesRemoval
Lots of large items and invasive plants were found in the creek bed but with the help of our amazing volunteers we removed a lot of it!
EmilyAnais
Emily, Environmental Educator and Annie, strike a pose while sorting trash collected at our Southcrest cleanup site!

When registration was over I sorted out trash in the dumpster with other ILACSD staff. While sorting we found: toilet seats, car seats, metal frames, cans, and bottles. We went ahead and removed all recyclable items and placed them in the correct bin so unnecessary items didn’t end up in the landfill. We also received a few big items like a kitchen sink, a bed, and 3 shopping carts. Unfortunately, many of the big items were found in the creek bed, but with the help of our amazing volunteers we were able to remove it! I immediately saw the aesthetic difference of the creek and reflected on the importance of proper disposal of trash and recycling. One volunteer really stood out to me because he expressed such excitement about what we were doing there and how he is eager to make behavioral changes that will benefit his community.

Besides picking up trash, there were opportunities to participate in a few other service projects at Southcrest Park. Volunteers removed invasive plants from the creek bed, stenciled storm drain along the nearby streets, as well as painted park benches and other areas to remove graffiti. The park was left looking as good as new!

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We’re thankful for the ongoing support of County Supervisor Greg Cox! Here he is lending a hand by painting picnic tables to help beautify the park!

I had an amazing time getting to know our volunteers, working with the ILACSD team, and cleaning up my community! It was also so inspiring to see my nieces and their friends get excited about cleaning up our community. It was also a great example of the importance of not littering! The whole experience left me feeling empowered and motivated; I can’t wait for the next clean-up

But before we start talking about our next cleanup, we’d like to debut our preliminary totals for this year’s Creek to Bay Cleanup! Drum roll please……..

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left to right: Moriah, Community Program Coordinator; Natalie, Senior Director of Operations; Lexi, Community Program Manager.

We would like to thank all of our 5,700 volunteers who took the time to make their communities clean and ensuring that our local waterways stay free of trash and pollutants! Thanks to your help, we cleaned and beautified a record number of 106 outdoor spaces and successfully removed approximately 125,000 pounds of debris countywide!

We would like to also thank our event sponsors and partners for all the help and a special thanks to Lexi Ambrogi and Natalie Roberts for coordinating such an awesome event.

Be sure to save the date for our next countywide cleanup, Coastal Cleanup Day, happening Saturday, September 19th, 2015! More information can be found at www.CleanupDay.org.

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The ILACSD team hopes to see you at our next countywide cleanup, Coastal Cleanup Day, happening Saturday, September 19th!

 

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Gardeners come together at Creek to Bay

Today, we would like to highlight yet another amazing Creek to Bay site captain team! Recently, our Development and Marketing Coordinator, Sarah, sat down with Kaley, a Community Health Specialist from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) who helps lead the New Roots Community Farm program. Read on to learn more about how this diverse group of community members have come together to do much more than pick up litter.

IRC logoFirst, let’s start with a little background; what does the IRC do? The International Rescue Committee (IRC) provides health care, infrastructure, learning and economic support to people from around the world whose lives and livelihoods have been uprooted due to conflicts and disasters. Every year, the IRC resettles thousands of refugees in 22 U.S. cities, including San Diego, in efforts to help people, “survive, recover, and gain control of their future.” (www.rescue.org)
One of their most popular programs, the New Roots Community Farm, helps promote food security for approximately 90 refugee families who reside in the City Heights area. Each family has a plot where they plant, maintain and harvest food that they bring home to their families. They even have a booth at the City Heights Farmer’s Market each Saturday, as well, where farmers can sell their produce to bring in extra income for their families. 


But the IRC’s reach doesn’t stop there. About three years ago, the New Roots team was introduced to ILACSD through a combined partnership with Ground Works San Diego – Chollas Creek and Linda Pennington; both of which are longstanding ILACSD supporters and advocates for the well-being of City Heights and Chollas Creek. Their collaboration was a natural fit because a portion of Chollas Creek, a 32 mile natural waterway and drainage system, runs along the backside of the New Roots Community Farm. Unfortunately, the creek has been known to attract illegal dumping and litter so when it rains those pollutants move downstream impacting several neighborhoods along the way.
Linda Pennington at last year's Creek to Bay cleanup!
When asked, “What motivated your team to volunteer as site captains?” Kaley replied, without hesitation, “The free dumpster” which may seem like a comedic response but she further explained that ILACSD’s support, training and cleanup materials were great incentives to join. Additionally, her team was motivated by the fact that having pollution near a growing garden is not only unsightly, but could eventually lead to health issues. Thanks to this collaboration, the team at New Roots Community Farm now hosts quarterly cleanups in addition to their involvement with Creek to Bay and Coastal Cleanup Day, ensuring a healthy and safe garden for all to enjoy!

IRC garden - site capt blog
The New Roots Community Farm located in City Heights is located on a 2 1/2 acre lot and provides 90 families with individual plots to feed their families.

Ensuring safe food is not the only focus for this cleanup site.  Although 90 families have plots at the garden, they often don’t see one another. Creek to Bay helps bring together one of San Diego’s most diverse communities, consisting of about dozens of different cultures and ethnicities, to enhance their local environment. It also provides them with a safe outlet to explore areas outside of the gardens. Since being introduced to I Love A Clean San Diego, volunteers have developed a native plants garden, walking paths, and removed pollutants from the creek bed. Above all else, the garden and Creek to Bay has helped to provide the gardeners with a greater connection to their new home in San Diego.

Join Kaley and her team at the New Roots Community Garden cleanup site in City Heights or choose from our other 105 sites at www.CreektoBay.org!

Kicking off Creek to Bay registration!

It’s one of our favorite days of the year...the day that Creek to Bay volunteer registration officially begins!

Plan to spend the morning of April 25th with ILACSD staff and thousands of other volunteers from across San Diego County to protect and enhance San Diego’s treasured natural spaces. But don’t take our word for it. Read on to hear from one of our newest site captain teams, the Trails Committee of San Elijo Hills from San Marcos!

Once upon a time, there was a group of concerned residents who recognized a growing litter problem in their community. Instead of turning a blind eye, they chose to band together to protect their neighborhood by hosting cleanups. They called themselves the Trails Committee of San Elijo Hills. Soon after forming, they realized that they needed some help to get their vision off the ground. So Crystal, a member of the Trails Committee of San Elijo Hills, and her team turned to ILACSD for guidance and supplies.

In a recent conversation with ILACSD, Crystal shared that “The Trails Committee of San Elijo Hills is just a small group of dedicated community members. Without I Love A Clean San Diego, pulling off a cleanup of this magnitude would have been a huge effort.”

San Elijo Hills Trails
In Crystal’s words: “ILACSD is already so good at coordinating cleanups” and “they make it so easy” to get involved that it was a no-brainer to volunteer for Creek to Bay.

Well, this little group of concerned citizens organized their first cleanup last year as part of ILACSD’s annual Creek to Bay Cleanup. The results? To their surprise, more than 100 people showed up to clean up all 18 miles of the San Elijo Hills trails! What originally started as a small group of concerned community members grew almost ten-fold overnight. When asked about her favorite part of the Creek to Bay Cleanup was, Crystal replied that she enjoys connecting with others that are passionate about protecting the environment and seeing them get excited about what they are able to accomplish in just three hours.

Crystal also shared with us that cleanups like Creek to Bay are important for two reasons:

1) Volunteers physically remove the trash – instantly making our environment better.

2) The cleanups bring awareness and educate others about the problems that littering causes – encouraging community members to think twice before littering has a lasting impact.

Volunteers of all ages, including youth, are encouraged to participate!
Volunteers of all ages, including youth, are encouraged to participate!

For more information and to register for Creek to Bay, please visit www.CreektoBay.org! If you’re feeling on the fence, take these words of encouragement from Crystal, “Three hours seems like a lot of time to give on a Saturday morning, but by the end you’ll surprise yourself. You’ll have a lot of fun and you’ll also gain a greater sense of pride for your community.”

San Elijo Lagoon in Encinitas
San Diego County is connected through a network of watersheds and the San Elijo Hills Trails of San Marcos are no different. Trash flows from the trails, to Copper Creek, into San Elijo Lagoon in Encinitas (another C2B cleanup site!) and eventually out to the ocean!

 

 

Profiling ILACSD’s longest-serving site captains!

Mindy & Jane - Dog Beach Dog Wash
Mindy & Jane, Dog Beach Dog Wash owners, with Juno, Chipper & Zydeco.

Today’s blog is a special one. Two of our longest standing supporters, Jane Donley and Mindy Pellissier, graciously put together these thoughtful answers about their experience as site captains and what they do year-round to help protect OB’s Dog Beach. Read on to learn more about their passion for a clean San Diego and why they want you to join them for Creek to Bay, happening April 25th!

Prior to opening the Dog Wash, Mindy & I got our first dog in Feb. 1989 and began visiting Dog Beach daily.  The Ocean Beach Town Council had adopted Dog Beach in 1972 (when it officially became an off-leash area) for cleanups 3-4 times a year.  As members of the Town Council, we became involved in the cleanups and in 1993 (when opening Dog Beach Dog Wash) took over as captains and organizers of the cleanups.

In 1996, we organized Friends of Dog Beach to cleanup and care for Dog Beach, conducting bi-weekly cleanups with several hundred volunteers.  Currently we conduct monthly cleanups (every second Saturday from 9 to 11 am) in addition to Creek to Bay, Morning After Mess on July 5th, and Coastal Cleanup Day.  We installed 12 stainless steel containers for dog bags with help from County Supervisor Greg Cox and the OB Community Development Corporation in 2002, and currently provide more than 10,000 free poop bags a week to keep Dog Beach clean.

DBDW - 2009
Throw back to 2009 at one of OB Dog Beach’s monthly cleanups!

 

 

What brings us back?

We value Dog Beach (40+ acres of sand where the San Diego River meets the Pacific Ocean) for the joy it brings to the 10,000 dogs who visit each week, the social benefits to dogs and human guardians, and the love and respect we have for the natural habitat and fresh air.  We are committed to improving the water quality of the river and ocean, and maintaining the beach as a desired destination for nature- and dog-lovers, and will always support organizations and individuals who share these values.

SD River meets the Pacific Ocean
OB’s Dog Beach – 40+ acres of sand where the San Diego River meets the Pacific Ocean.

Why should others consider becoming site captains?

The best part of being a site captain is the vested interest in protecting and enhancing the beauty and health of a “great place” be it a canyon, creek, back alley or beach.  Over years one can see improvements, and socializing with neighbors for a good cause improves everyone’s quality of life.  Inspiring others, especially younger generations, to respect and enhance the environment is another major goal.

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Volunteers, including Councilmember Lori Zapf and ILACSD Director Bill Haines, at last year’s Coastal Cleanup Day at Dog Beach.

 

Aside from cleanups, how else does Dog Beach Dog Wash protect the environment?

In our private lives, and at Dog Beach Dog Wash, we continually seek ways to protect and enhance the environment.  We’ve planted trees, and conserve water with low-flow devices, synthetic lawn and low-water plants.  We use recycled and recyclable paper products, green cleaning products, “Energy Star” appliances, and sell healthy organic dog treats and dog/cat collars and leashes made from soy and recycled plastic bottles. Because of potential zoonotic diseases, we cannot use recycled water; we looked into that.

We also donate our used towels and dog accessories to local animal shelters to be re-used for dogs & cats awaiting forever homes.  We support organizations that share our values for sustaining and improving the environment, including I Love A Clean San Diego, Think Blue, Surfrider, Coastkeeper, and the San Diego River Park Foundation.

DBDW and OB sacred heart - 4.12
Student volunteers from OB Sacred Heart Academy – Earth Day Cleanup 2012

 

Mark your calendars – registration opens Wednesday, April 1st! You’ll have the opportunity to choose from 100+ cleanup sites across San Diego County, including Jane & Mindy’s site in OB! For more information & to register, please visit www.CreektoBay.org. In a matter of only a couple hours, you’ll be able to show pride for your community working along side neighbors to ensure a safe and clean environment for current and future San Diegans! 

Local Businesses Step Up for Creek2Bay

Community Programs Manager, LexiToday’s blog comes from our Community Programs Manager, Lexi! If you have ever volunteered for one of our cleanups there is a good chance you two have crossed paths! In addition to community cleanups, she also helps coordinate our two countywide cleanups, Creek to Bay and Coastal Cleanup Day. Creek to Bay is the first countywide cleanup of the year and there will be close to 100 cleanup sites across San Diego County! Read on to learn more about how local businesses have stepped up to protect and conserve our environment!

Preparations for our Earth Month volunteer event, the Creek to Bay Cleanup, are in full swing here at I Love A Clean San Diego. With 95 cleanup and beautification projects happening throughout San Diego County on April 25, it’s certainly a busy time around our office!

c2b15-logo-with-details

This event would not be possible without the support of some of our business partners in the community. We’d like to take this opportunity to recognize some of these groups that help make this event a success.

BoxedGreen

One of our newest partners for this event is local startup BoxedGreen. This eco-friendly company is helping San Diegans reduce their environmental impact by offering gently used cardboard boxes for $1 each. Through unique partnerships with local businesses, BoxedGreen connects community members in need of boxes with nearby retailers who have boxes to spare.BoxedGreen Founder

BoxedGreen will be donating a portion of the cardboard boxes we use to pack up the cleanup supplies for our 95 different Creek to Bay sites throughout San Diego County. We can’t wait to put these recycled boxes to good use!

 

RECON Environmental, Inc.
Maple Canyon in the Park West neighborhood of San Diego looks quite a bit different now than it did 4 years ago, thanks in large part to cleanup efforts led by a team from RECON Environmental, Inc. RECON, a local environmental services firm, wanted to use its expertise in habitat restoration to revitalize a canyon in their neighborhood through community involvement.

RECON staff began serving as site captains for this canyon in 2011, focusing first on large trash items that had been illegally dumped years ago. Once these items were properly disposed of, RECON began to focus on habitat restoration by removing invasive plants and slowly returning the canyon to its native state of coastal sage scrub.

Maple Canyon cleanup led by RECON Environmental, Inc.
Maple Canyon cleanup led by RECON Environmental, Inc.

To keep the canyon looking great between our countywide cleanup efforts (Creek to Bay in April and Coastal Cleanup Day in September), RECON also coordinates their own cleanups of the canyon through our Adopt-A-Beach/Adopt-A-Canyon program. RECON is a perfect example of how a company can take action to beautify the environment right in its own backyard!

Sony
For the last several years, we have worked with our friends at Sony to offer a fun photo contest for all of our volunteers. The winner of this year’s contest will receive a brand new Sony Cyber-Shot camera! Last year’s photo contest theme was “Be The Change,” and we received tons of great shots of volunteers beautifying their local communities.

Last year's Sony Photo Contest winner!
Last year’s Sony Photo Contest winner!

And not only is Sony supporting our event by sponsoring the photo contest—they also gather a volunteer team every year to participate at one of our many cleanup sites.

Sony employee volunteer group at Kids' Ocean Day 2015
Sony employees volunteer with us year-round in addition to our countywide cleanups! Here is a group of Sony volunteers who joined us at Kids’ Ocean Day in February!

Interested in getting your business connected with our Creek to Bay Cleanup? Visit www.CreektoBay.org to find out about how you can get involved! If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, please download a copy of our sponsorship packet. For more information, please email Natalie, Senior Director of Operations, at nroberts@cleansd.org. Thank you!

Breaking Down a Breezy Creek to Bay Cleanup!

Today’s blog post comes from our Community Events Coordinator, Lexi Ambrogi, who is one of only 2 people who fearlessly and tirelessly planned this year’s Creek to Bay Cleanup!S

 

As the numbers and results trickle into our office, we’re growing more and more confident of one thing: our 12th Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup was a success!

Flash back to 5AM Saturday morning. Our staff members’ alarms were all set to right around this time, and I’m betting that they looked out their windows and thought what I did: that wind! That rain! How is it possibly this loud outside right now?

But fortunately for us, the weather actually improved throughout the morning, and by the time volunteers started reporting to our record 96 cleanup sites throughout San Diego County, it was almost pleasant outside.

While the threat of rain may have kept a handful of volunteers in bed that morning, preliminary totals indicate that we had more than 5,000 people cleaning up their local creeks, beaches and bays as part of this event! And while the trash totals are still being compiled, we’re expecting that these volunteers removed roughly 150,000 pounds of litter and debris from their communities.

Two volunteers pulled this tractor tire out of Chollas Creek, though maybe with a little help…
Two volunteers pulled this tractor tire out of Chollas Creek, though maybe with a little help…

Every year at this event—and Coastal Cleanup Day in September—we look forward to hearing about the interesting and bizarre things that our volunteers find tucked away in canyons, riverbeds and trails. Some of my favorites this year include a cast iron bathtub (Alpine), a teddy bear scientist (Golden Hill), a 6-foot stuffed bear (City Heights), and a 5-pound bag of raw chicken wings (City Heights).

Despite the smoking ban at San Diego County beaches, volunteers are reporting that cigarette butts were once again the most commonly found item at their cleanup sites. With the help of initiatives like our Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, we’re hoping that we’ll see fewer butts on the ground and more in the trash can where they belong. Thanks to all of our Creek to Bay Cleanup sponsors who help make this event possible each year!

A family with the Bank of America volunteer team at Memorial Community Park works together to clean up Logan Heights.
A family with the Bank of America volunteer team at Memorial Community Park works together to clean up Logan Heights.

Looking to join us at our next event? We have a bunch of cleanups coming up in May and June. Click here for more information on how to get involved!

 

Volunteers at Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach relax after a morning of hard work. Way to go with those reusable buckets, guys!
Volunteers at Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach relax after a morning of hard work. Way to go with those reusable buckets, guys!

Keeping Green with Jon Green: A C2B Site Captain Profile

Today we have a guest blog post from Creek to Bay site captain, Jon Green!  We interviewed Jon on the highlights of C2B, why he started captaining, and what the weirdest item was he found during a cleanup… 

Here's Jon out at a cleanup site
Here’s Jon out at a cleanup site

 

Creek to Bay is such a great event for Back Country Land Trust (BCLT) to participate in because it helps us achieve our goal of cleaning up Alpine’s creeks and streams that flow into the San Diego River.  The one-day, County-wide effort also helps BCLT and our volunteers here in Alpine to feel connected to the larger community throughout San Diego.  Without events like this, and the support of so many dedicated people, trash would just accumulate in our waterways, eventually finding it’s way to the ocean and coastline.  These types of community clean-up events are an inspiring way to “make the world a better place” by doing your own little part to help clean up the mess that would otherwise just be endlessly accumulating around us.

In 2013, Jon and his team cleaned up 5,000 pounds of trash from Alpine Creek
In 2013, Jon and his team cleaned up 5,000 pounds of trash from Alpine Creek

I was invited to participate in Creek to Bay in 2013 by ILACSD, and jumped at the opportunity to work in partnership with such a great non-profit partner in BCLT’s efforts to clean up and restore Alpine’s creeks and streams.  For over two years, BCLT has been cleaning up Alpine’s waterways that lead to the San Diego River through our watershed stewardship program.  Partnering with ILACSD for this event was just a natural fit for us to continue to engage the San Diego community in being good stewards of their watershed, and to enhance our impact in clearing trash and debris from our rivers. I’m proud to be a leader in this effort as a Creek to Bay Site Captain. It’s how I do my part to create positive change in the world.

Through our watershed stewardship program, BCLT is working with over 40 private landowners throughout Alpine to clear trash and restore habitat along Alpine’s waterways that flow into the San Diego River.  Volunteers who come out to participate in BCLT watershed events, like Creek to Bay, get the chance to see some beautiful creek-side riparian areas that would otherwise be completely unavailable to the public because these are mainly private residences.  The site we’ll be working on in 2014 for example is a 9-acre private property that stretches along Alpine Creek (at the intersection of Alpine Boulevard and Tavern Road).  Oak and sycamore provide a shady canopy for a park-like setting beneath the trees, where Alpine Creek flows through rocky stream-banks and open clearings, colored with wild grape leaves and California holly-berry, or Toyon.  Since this land is private property, this event will provide a unique opportunity for volunteers to see some of this amazing riparian habitat for themselves since BCLT is working in partnership with the landowner.

It’s inspiring to see so many people working together to keep San Diego’s waterways clean and beautiful. Events like these build a sense of place in our small foothill community that keeps us tied to a “bigger picture” within San Diego.  We may live “up the hill” here in Alpine, but everyone lives downstream from someone, and we are all truly connected by our waterways. This event is our annual “reminder” to the community that we all live in the same watershed.

Unfortunately, we find a lot of household waste dumped off the side of the road, probably because people would rather dump it illegally than pay fees for disposal at a waste facility (ed. note: learn how you can dispose of hazardous waste at WasteFreeSD.org).  Some of the more unusual items we’ve found throughout our watershed clean-up efforts include: a stolen ATM machine; a safe with no door (and sadly, no money); gallons of used motor oil thrown off of the road shoulder; a bathtub; and weirdly, a bag full of goat skulls.  Unfortunately, we haven’t found anything really charismatic, mostly just disgusting trash that should not be anywhere near the creek.

Great job, team!!! Hope to see you all in 2014
Great job, team!!! Hope to see you all in 2014

In 2013, we pulled nearly 5,000 pounds of trash from Alpine Creek during the Creek to Bay event.  Alpine Creek is the single largest pollution source flowing into El Capitan Reservoir, which is the City of San Diego’s main surface water catchment for drinking water, municipal use, etc.  Any trash that we can remove from the creeks in Alpine, saves the taxpayers and agencies time and money from having to remove it and clean up the pollution later before that water reaches the tap in your kitchen sink.  If Creek to Bay volunteers want to work in a more natural, rural setting AND make a difference in the headwaters of the San Diego River, then this is their chance to help us clean up the creeks here in Alpine.

We also have some AMAZING places to explore after the event while volunteers are here in town, like BCLT’s own Wright’s Field Nature Preserve (open to the public for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding), and of course the Alpine Beer Company for lunch / dinner afterward!  Anyone willing to make the 30-minute drive to Alpine surely won’t be disappointed with the unparalleled natural scenery and local craft beer we have up here in the foothills.  Come on out to join us in cleaning up Alpine’s watershed during Creek to Bay, or any of our other BCLT events.

 

Thanks for all your help, Jon! You can join Jon in Alpine or any of our other 90+ inland and coastal cleanup sites. Learn more and register today!