Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

Op-Ed: Volunteers Clean Up a Flood of Trash From Los Angeles Riverbed

By Sandy Sand     May 12, 2009 in Lifestyle
To call the Los Angeles River a "river" is an insult to what we think of as “real” rivers with gently sloping banks that have actual water flowing between them.
Usually bereft of water, because everyone know it doesn’t rain in Southern California, except for a once-in-ten-years torrential storm, the river runs at a trickle of filthy water or is completely dry.
But it does flood! On a minute-by-minute basis…it’s flooded with trash.
Rather than being a beautiful waterway, the L.A. River with its concrete walls is a flood-control channel built by the Army Corps of Engineers years ago.
They might as well call the Los Angeles River the Los Angeles Garbage Dump, because that is exactly what it is … 52 miles of 30-foot high concrete walls lining either side … that aimlessly meanders through the sprawling 450-square-mile city, splitting off in various directions, until they meet up again and ultimately finds its way to the Pacific Ocean, collecting trash, garbage and other unsightly things all along the way.
This vast wandering concrete canyon might as well have “dump on me!“ graffitied all over its ugly cement-colored walls.
Well, it has the graffiti.
Ton after ton of trash is tossed into it every year by thoughtless I-could-freakin’-care-less Angelinos.
Ergo, several times a year various civic-minded groups don what amounts to hazmat gear -- plastic gloves, boots and face masks -- and volunteer to clean up after the real pigs that rove the city leaving mountains of trash in their wake.
The chickens and goats that illegally roam certain neighborhoods, while the city government turns a blind eye to the violations of zoning laws, because “it their way of life,” aren’t as big of pigs as the bi-pedal residents.
Geared up and armed with shovels, pointy pickup sticks and thousands of plastic bags, they walk through the muck of human leavings, filling their garbage swag bags and creating temporary mountains of “unusual” items.
So it was again last Saturday, May 9, when approximately 3,000 volunteers combed the river at 14 locations collecting trash.
Making a game of it, event organizers Friends of the Los Angeles River, ask the volunteers to start a pile of “unusual” items.
Shelly Backlar, executive director for Friends, said:
"We've had hot tubs and phone booths … it's almost like, 'What am I going to find?”
This particular harvest of garbage didn’t produce too many unusual items; but mostly the usual assortment of snack bags, hypodermic needles, plastic grocery bags, rusted metal, tangled electrical cords and Styrofoam cups, all of which are hazardous to the health of the ducklings and their moms that haunt the riverbed.
At one location there was a small pile of items deemed “interesting,” and the best of the worst was a dreadlocked Barbie with its blonde hair matted and full of vegetation and muck.
She got the temporary place of honor atop the pile until Department of Sanitation trucks came by at the end of the day to finish mopping up the flood of trash.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Trash, Rivers, Volunteers
More news from