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Pasadena Audubon Society Volunteers Cleaned Up Arroyo Seco As Part of Coastal Cleanup Day

Published on Tuesday, September 26, 2023 | 5:19 am

Over 200 Pasadena Audubon Society volunteers took part in the annual International Coastal Cleanup Day on Sept. 16, a global event that aims to combat the escalating pollution crisis affecting beaches worldwide. 

Additional PAS volunteers joined other groups in the Pasadena area to help clean up the Arroyo Seco on Saturday, Sept. 23, which was National Public Lands Day. 

International Coastal Cleanup Day was established to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of pollution, largely driven by population growth and capitalism, on Earth’s oceans and the environment as a whole. This pollution, which includes vast amounts of plastic waste, largely come from communities near rivers and tributaries. 

“Water flows from the San Gabriel Mountains to Arroyo Seco, then into the Los Angeles River, and ultimately into the Pacific Ocean,” Jamie Cho, Pasadena Audubon Society programs coordinator, said. “It is essential to intercept trash along this water pathway before it reaches the ocean. According to Heal the Bay, 80% of the trash in the ocean originates from land, with streets being a significant source. Generally speaking, this underscores the importance of cleanup efforts, regardless of location.”

These plastic materials break down into minute particles, and they have already infiltrated food and water supplies, posing a severe threat to people’s health and the environment. 

For members of the Pasadena Audubon Society and other environmental groups, it is vital that any form of non-biodegradable trash, including plastic, are collected and disposed of properly from such places as the Arroyo Seco. 

Dave Weeshoff, Pasadena Audubon Conservation Chair, said the volunteers picked up some 250 pounds of trash out of debris that had accumulated in the Arroyo Seco during heavy rains earlier this year.

“That’s an excellent turnout,” Weeshoff said. “I think in prior years, our turnouts has been somewhere around 50 or 60, and so it seems like the residents of Pasadena and vicinity are concerned with urban runoff and, with trash going off from the land in the Arroyo Seco and then out into the ocean, sufficiently energized to get up on a Saturday morning and pick up trash.”

A lot of planning goes into the group’s participation in the annual coastal cleanup, since they work with other like organizations throughout San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles County, said Weeshoff. The effort is coordinated countywide by Heal the Bay, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the coastal waters and watersheds in Greater Los Angeles safe, healthy, and clean. 

“They’ve been doing that for many years,” Weeshoff said. 

‘Every year, on the third Saturday of the month, they send out emails to site captains and organizations that have done prior years and asked if they want to participate. And then about a month later, they say, ‘we’re going to have a site captain’s meeting.’ This used to be in person in Santa Monica where they’re headquartered, but recently they’ve been on Zoom and they just describe all the efforts and actions that need to be done by the site captain.” 

On Saturday, the Pasadena group that went down to clean up the Arroyo Seco included teams of Boy and Girl Scouts, conservation groups, schools and private companies.

“Volunteers are the driving force behind the success of this event,” Jamie Cho said. “While individuals may feel overwhelmed by the amount of trash they encounter on streets and trails, coming together with hundreds of others who share the goal of improving our environment is empowering.” 

Next year, the Pasadena Audubon Society intends to be joining both of these annual events – the Coastal Cleanup Day and National Public Lands Day.

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