Santa Barbara Channelkeeper's Watershed Brigade Cleans Nature Access Areas
Watershed Brigade volunteer Peter Moschitto who earned volunteer hours for his Boy Scout badge & trash collected from Seven Falls Trail
Source: Santa Barbara Channelkeeper
They say that a waterfall starts with one drop of water. With that sentiment in mind, an enthusiastic group of do-gooding adventurers called the Watershed Brigade has engaged the power of collective individual action to keep Santa Barbara’s open spaces clean.
You may have seen them at a trailhead parking lot greeting visitors or hauling away bags of trash from a local beach. Their masked faces and gloved hands keep our community safe and clean, but positive energy shines out from behind the protective layers. These environmental superheroes are members of a local volunteer group organized by Santa Barbara Channelkeeper that helps clean up trails, creeks, beaches, and river access areas while spreading awareness about the need to prevent littering.
The clean water watchdog organization witnessed firsthand that beaches, creeks, and trails were experiencing an increase in usage as popular places to enjoy nature while social distancing during the pandemic. Because many of these outdoor areas are sensitive environments, they were concerned about the effects of trash and pollution on waterways and wildlife. So Channelkeeper put a call out for volunteers to serve as environmental stewards and help keep public areas litter-free.
“We recognized that the littering problem was getting out of control but that the community was eager to do their part to help, so mobilizing a safe volunteer response seemed like a natural solution,” said Ben Pitterle, Channelkeeper’s Science and Policy Director.
Members of Channelkeeper’s Watershed Brigade survey heavily visited outdoor areas, collect litter, and hand out trash bags and gloves to like-minded outdoor adventurers each weekend in an effort to keep our community and our waterways clean and trash-free. Volunteers wear protective masks and gloves and keep six feet of distance between individuals to abide by social distancing guidelines.
The response to Channelkeeper’s call to action was overwhelmingly positive. Twenty-five volunteers participated in the Watershed Brigade over Memorial Day weekend, removing over twenty bags of trash from local creeks, beaches, and the Ventura River. They greeted more than 300 visitors and offered friendly reminders to pack out litter. Over forty sets of bags and gloves were distributed as hikers and swimmers joined in the collective effort.
“We’re all yearning to do something positive for our community in this time. This project is an opportunity for people to make a real difference and enjoy the outdoors while they’re at it,” said Pitterle.
As the 4th of July weekend approaches, local authorities are expecting high activity levels at our beaches, creeks, trails, and river access areas. With that in mind, Pitterle explains that Channelkeeper’s Watershed Brigade will be out in force to spread awareness about the need to prevent littering and ensure that the natural places we cherish remain healthy, vibrant, and beautiful.
If you would like to join Channelkeeper’s Watershed Brigade, please email [email protected]
About Santa Barbara Channelkeeper
Santa Barbara Channelkeeper was founded in late 1999 as a program of the Environmental Defense Center and became an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2001. The organization has worked to protect water quality, restore aquatic ecosystems, advocate for clean water, enforce environmental laws, and educate and engage citizens in implementing solutions to water pollution and aquatic habitat degradation.
Santa Barbara Channelkeeper is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, a coalition of more than 300 grassroots Waterkeeper groups on six continents collectively patrolling and protecting more than 2.7 million square miles of watersheds and defending their communities’ right to clean water. It is also a member of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, a coalition of California Waterkeepers working to strengthen water quality and marine habitat protections at the state level. To learn more, please visit www.sbck.org