Story and photos by: Ruarri Serpa
Loma Alta Creek Clean Up
Oceanside CA- Walking through the muddy banks of Garrison Creek, Indi Loma and his family had already filled two trash bags in less than an hour. In one hand he carried a full bag, and in the other he clutched his son, who found a muddy bucket, in which he keeps another found treasure, a faded soccer ball.
The family volunteered for the third year in the Loma Alta Creek Cleanup. They live in nearby Rancho del Oro, and just want to keep their neighborhood clean. Though not actually on Loma Alta Creek, Garrison Creek runs along the northern edge of El Corazon to El Camino Real, where it has been channeled south into Loma Alta.
“Just give it 1,000 years, and the trash ends up in the same place,” said Bob MacLeod, who was also cleaning up at Garrison Creek, with his wife. They recently moved here from Phoenix, Arizona, and this is their first year volunteering for the creek cleanup.
All the way downstream at Buccaneer Beach, over 100 volunteers from schools, church groups, and sports teams turned out, and collected over 600 pounds of trash. “The weirdest thing we found, was a car bumper,” said one station volunteer from Harrah’s Rincon.
Traveling back up the channeled creek, Cecilia Koerner of Waste Management, was finishing up at a station south of Oceanside Boulevard. Volunteers there had pulled 75 pounds of trash from an area that straddles both side of Interstate 5.
“People pass by up there, and throw their trash out, not knowing what’s down here,” she said. “A lot of toilet paper, bags, and food wrappers.”
“I can remember years ago, we pulled fridges out,” said Jimmy Knott, Utilities Commission, who lives near Loma Alta Creek.
According to Knott, the creek was an important source of water for native people, and later for downtown Oceanside. It remained an open water way until the middle of the last century, when the landowner, Howard Richardson, the city’s first elected mayor, filled in the creek one night before an inspection by the Army Corps of Engineers.
What used to be an open waterway, is now a series of underground pipes, and channels that eventually lead to the ocean. Mobile home parks line the shores now, and face floods caused by runoff from commercial development in the area. Over 70 percent of the watershed is developed with residential, commercial, and light industrial pockets. Homeless people have set up camp beneath the I-5 overpass.
“There are social issues just as much as environmental ones,” Knott said. “They go hand in hand.”
Knott acknowledged that while he lives in a mobile home park for seniors that was built atop the land the Mayor Richardson filled in, young families live in flood areas caused by altering the nature of the creek.
“We’re passing a responsibility to the new generation,” Knott said. “We woke up – the next generation is already wide awake.”
2014 River and Beach Cleanup Events
July 5: Morning After Mess Beach Cleanup. 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
September 20: Buena Vista Creek and Beach Cleanup. 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
First Saturday of each month: North of Pier. 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Ruarri Serpa is a freelance reporter from Oceanside, CA. You can contact him directly at RuarriS@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @Ruarris