Students will join San Joaquin River cleanup volunteers

California State University, Fresno students will join RiverTree Volunteers for the Great Sierra Cleanup on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24-25, removing tires, trash and other unwanted items that have been dumped into the San Joaquin River.

RiverTree Volunteers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining the beauty of the river, coordinates the annual clean up. The Fresno State students are enrolled in an environmental service class in the Department of Political Science taught by Dr. Mark Somma.

Last year, 125 Fresno State students and 33 community members cleared more than 13 tons of debris from the river. Student organizers hope to exceed both records this year, setting their sights on clearing as much as 20 tons of trash.

“We expect to clear about 450 car and truck tires, discarded furniture, abandoned boats and assorted debris,” said Somma, who also is a RiverTree Volunteer guide.

This year, the RiverTree guides have identified three sites along the river for cleanup teams: Camp Pashayan, near the Highway 99 bridge, and two others west of the bridge. Private landowners have opened their property to cleanup crews.

Students use canoes and grappling hooks to drag heavy items off the river bottom and onto the bank to be deposited in three 40 cubic-yard bins for disposal.

The cleanup is open to anyone who wants to volunteer. All should wear long pants and closed-toe shoes. Participants will meet at 8 a.m. Sept. 24 at the Starbucks restaurant on Herndon Avenue and Golden State Boulevard before moving to the cleanup sites.

For more information, contact Richard Sloan at 559.696.2971 or riverrich1509@aol.com.

(Copy by environmental service class student Alexi Kimura).

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