First, a little history of Chollas Creek. An urban stream that flows into San Diego Bay, this natural drainage channel begins with four small branches in the hills of Lemon Grove and La Mesa.
During the rainy season, the water moves west with twists and turns for 30 miles, before emptying into the bay at Barrio Logan. The creek was used by Native Americans as a trail, to avoid climbing up and down the different mesas. Then, over the past 60 years, development, pollution, illegal dumping, and the destruction of natural habitats almost killed Chollas Creek.
The idea was to deal with the litter along all our waterways, and prevent the trash from flowing into the ocean. The three-hour event has grown from 27 cleanup sites the first year to 90 sites in 2012. Last Saturday, more than 7,500 volunteers fanned out for a 10th anniversary facelift, picking up trash and debris throughout San Diego County.
Lemon Grove’s section of Chollas Creek was my destination. It was a beautiful, sunny morning when I parked by the cleanup site, just within the city’s borders, at Federal Boulevard and San Miguel Avenue.
At that corner, a dry streambed rises up the hillside for several miles towards the southeast. When it rains, this is the course the water takes on the way to lower ground. This time of year the empty creek was filled to the brim with bright lemon-colored flowers—what else?
At first, you think: Pretty nice view.
However, under the floral camouflage is a far different world. You find a ground cover of cigarette butts and Styrofoam containers. This is a dumping ground for the unwanted, from used motor oil to old paint cans to discarded mattresses. The toxic brew is just waiting for a ride to our bay and beaches during the next rainfall.
You have to wonder how people can be so inconsiderate to foul the environment we all have to live in. Then you meet the cleanup volunteers, and have to ask how can they be so considerate to clean up someone else’s mess. I guess life is a balance.
The city was the sponsor of this cleanup area, and EDCO provided two dumpsters. The onsite coordinators were Leon Firsht, city engineer, and Malik Tamimi, management analyst of the .
Tamimi sent me a report card of our local cleanup efforts:
- Trash Collected: 1,486 pounds.
- Recyclables Collected: 213 pounds.
- Volunteers: 40
- Area Covered: 2 miles
Overall, in 90 San Diego County locations, volunteers collected 140,000 pounds of debris this year. Friends of Chollas Creek is hosting an event on Sept. 15, 2012, to clean up the creek again before the next rainy season.
Consider getting involved, and help bring balance to the world.