The Turlock Irrigation District helped a volunteer group remove more than two tons of trash and old tires from the Tuolumne River last week.
Unfortunately, the river and surrounding habitat have become a dumping ground for shopping carts, mattresses, plastic bags, scrap metal, and debris.
However, a group of river enthusiasts and concerned Stanislaus County residents known as “Operation 9-2-99” has taken it upon themselves to clean up the mess others have left behind over the past six months and TID has joined the cause.
The project on July 31 covered the area between the Ninth Street bridge in Modesto and the Highway 99 overcrossing. Within five hours, more than two tons of trash was collected and removed from the river.
The volunteer crews floated the trash downriver in canoes and boats where it was offloaded onto the shore and picked up by TID using a dump truck, then hauled away.
Several of the canoes were supplied by Tuolumne River Trust, a regular contributor to river cleanup efforts on the Tuolumne.
Chris Guptill, a teacher at Davis High School has been coordinating the Operation 9-2-99 monthly cleanup effort on the Tuolumne River for a year and a half. Chris and a team of volunteers including Phil McKay, a Warden with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Darin Jesberg, Captain with the Modesto Fire Department and Pat Maloney, an Aquatic Biologist with TID, conducted the cleanup last week.
The Tuolumne River, which is a source of irrigation water for TID and the Modesto Irrigation District, and drinking water for the City of Turlock, begins in the Yosemite National Park and snakes through the mountains, foothills, and into the Valley where it passes through Modesto before ultimately emptying into the San Joaquin River. The river is also habitat to native fish such as salmon and rainbow trout.
The next cleanup is scheduled for Aug. 15 from 8 to 11 a.m. The group will be meeting under the 7th Street Bridge on the south bank of the Tuolumne River.
For more information or to sign a volunteer waiver, click here.