By Jared Hardy
La Habra Journal
Volunteers of all ages in La Habra devoted their Saturday morning to clean out a stretch of Coyote Creek that runs near the intersection of Beach Boulevard. and Imperial Highway.
The event is a part of the statewide initiative “Coastal Cleanup Day” where California towns and cities near the coast gather volunteers to clean up beaches, rivers, or any other body of water that leads to the ocean.
The volunteers ranged from the local boy scout troops; Pack 87 and 883, to city council members Jim Gomez and Mike Blazey as well as the Mayor Rose Espinoza.
The event opened with Espinoza’s thanking the volunteers.
“I’d like to thank you all for being here today, giving your time and volunteering,” she told the volunteers. “Each of you are good stewards of our planet, and your actions will help preserve the environment for generations to come.”
The La Habra Creek Cleanup was organized by city engineer Christopher Johansen, who has been working with the event for the past eight years.
“We start meeting months before, we prepare to have everything ready to go,” Johansen said,
One of the biggest challenges for the cleanup was retrieving shopping carts that were tossed in the river.
Public Works fleet supervisor, Jayson Blackburn crafted a grappling hook for pulling these heavy objects up the steep concrete river banks.
“A while back, a lead from the street department came up to me and asked if I could create something to remove shopping carts from storm drains,” Jayson commented, implying the issue is not something new to the public works department.
Among the volunteers were families, schools, and local Cub Scouts that wanted to do something for their community.
Tom Dunne, assistant Scout Master to the newly reactivated Pack 883, was there cleaning the creek with some scouts.
“Stuff like Coastal Cleanup, it’s actually pretty fun,” commented 12-year-old Dakota Freeman. “People just throw their trash in the water; it’s kinda stupid, you’re polluting your own water. I like the environment and the stuff I do out here is just fun.”
First-year scout Braulio Jimenez, age 11, agreed, “I like being out here and doing stuff for the community, especially with friends.”
Some of the objects retrieved from the creek and along the banks included a mattress, a sleeping bag, and fire extinguisher.
Also a few sharp objects such as broken glass were found and were marked with orange flags to be picked up later by city workers to keep the volunteers safe.
For organizers, the cleanup of Coyote Creek is important because the waterway eventually runs into the ocean. This ties into the Coastal Cleanup’s goal of helping to clean the coasts.
Having residents and organizations volunteer and take part in the cleanup in La Habra helps build community.
“It’s very important for us in the community because it brings people together,” Espinoza said. “It benefits our community and it benefits all the other communities going down the channels; that’s what our motto is, we live up to a caring community. Also its about teaching the young children as well that they’re going to be stewards of the community as well and by us leading by example we’re forming the legacy we want to carry on.”