Ryan Chartrand

Students and community members joined forces Saturday to remove four tons of trash and 350 pounds of recyclables from urban creeks as part of San Luis Obispo County’s second annual Creek Day.

The event was hosted by San Luis Obispo County’s Land Conservancy.The volunteers left two 30-yard dumpsters overflowing with trash, said Wende Pearson, the membership development manager of the program.

This year’s number of volunteers more than doubles last year’s 100-person turnout.

Of the 227 creek-cleaners, 63 were Cal Poly students from residence halls and on-campus organizations.

“It’s one of the best turnouts we’ve had,” Pearson said. “It was a really big day.”

After signing in at Mission Plaza, volunteers broke into groups and headed off to one of the 25 available cleanup sites.

Pearson – who was in charge of the cleanup in San Luis Obispo – added three more cleanup locations to the site list to account for the unprecedented number of volunteers.

“We were overwhelmed with the amount of people willing to partake in an event that’s not too glamorous,” Pearson said.

One group of Cal Poly students cleaned the area of Stenner Creek that runs between Stenner Glen and Mustang Village student housing. Among them was social sciences freshman Glade Dlott.

“I didn’t think the creek was this dirty at the outset, but there have been many surprises,” Dlott said as he lugged two bags of trash – one over each shoulder – down the bank of the creek.

In addition to cans, bottles and boxes, the students found clothing, mattresses, skim boards, televisions and bikes in the creek.

Despite having to haul trash through muddy water and being posed with the threat of poison oak, Dlott said he would do it again.

“It’s good exercise,” he said. “It’s like hiking, but with trash.”

Last year was the first time the event was held county-wide, but it’s a tradition that has been going strong in San Luis Obispo for about 15 years, Pearson said.

Saturday’s event was an effort by San Luis Obispo County to prevent creek trash from flowing into the ocean after the first rain. Eight other cities in the county also organized Creek Day cleanups.

Members of Cal Poly’s Association of Environmental Professionals worked alongside Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee to clean a stretch of San Luis Obispo Creek between Madonna Road and Elks Lane.

Saturday was the first time English senior Audrey Tucker was involved with Creek Day, but she took part in similar cleanups in San Diego.

“It’s a cool thing – the whole community is involved,” she said. “It shows the local community that we care. We’re not just here for four years.”

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