Clean-up after yourselves, you filthbags

More on the Great American River Clean-up (with thanks to Michael)

This weekend, the American River Trail in Sacramento will host a regional gathering of conservation-minded volunteers for a day of trash-collection. The annual event, which aims to rid the parkway of refuse accumulated over the summer months, brings hundreds of bag-wielding helpers to the popular cycling destination for a morning of picking up garbage.

The American River and its upstream lakes, which flank the bike trails for thirty-two miles from Sacramento to Folsom, features many tranquil and secluded beaches which are popular gathering spots for summer-time revellers. While most come primarily to swim or sunbathe, unfortunately some leave large quantities of food waste, packaging, cigarette butts and damaged water-sports devices. The holiday weekends which bookend the summer see large influxes of visitors to the trail and river, many of whom have little respect or regard for keeping the park clean. Additionally, cyclists may unexpectedly come across large items of furniture: chairs, mattresses, even household appliances, which block the trail and cause a cycling hazard.

River clean-up events are held all over Northern California, from the coast to the remote inland waterways. The Great Sierra River Clean-up and the Coastal Clean-up will take place simultaneously with the American River Clean Clean-up, marking this Saturday as a major California conservation event, with potentially thousands of volunteers.

Aside from beautifying the American River Trail for visitors, the Great American River Clean-up has a vital environmental impact upon the waterways. Refuse which is discarded on beaches and in the river itself causes pollution, which harms mammals, birds and fish in the riparian ecosystem, as well as the regions down river, and ultimately the San Francisco Bay and beyond. Non-biodegradable trash can exist for decades, snaring and poisoning wildlife, while leaching toxic chemicals into the ground and water.

Locals interested in participating in the Great American River Clean-up are invited to visit the website of the American River Foundation. There they can find a list of sites requiring volunteers, as well as instructions and tips for safe trash-collection.

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