If you've ever floated around a backyard swimming pool, chances are pretty darn good you came across a small piece of debris, the kind of item that, with a scoop of a hand, can easily be removed from the water's surface (a gum wrapper, an errant piece of pool noodle, you get it).
Now multiply that gum wrapper by a humongous number containing several zeroes, and you've got what the debris situation can often be in a multi-mile urban waterway.
Add to that the fact that, unlike pools, migrating birds and protected fish call the waterway home, making its ever-growing trash something quite alarming.
What to do, where to go and what to see
But as they do each spring, thousands of volunteers, including you, perhaps, will step in to remove that gum wrapper, and oodles of other random bits of litter, from the LA River.
It's time again for the Great LA River CleanUp: La Gran Limpieza, a three-Saturday pitch-in affair that sends river-passionate cleaner-uppers to over a dozen spots along the water. Those include Marsh Street Nature Park, Willow Street Estuary, and other locales up and down the river.
A few specific locations are assigned to each Saturday, so check the schedule — April 15, 22, and 29 are the dates — and see what shore or bank might work for you.
As for having knowledgeable people on hand in case you have questions? Friends of the Los Angeles River oversees this whole, help-nature nice thing, so find a FOLAR rep along your bank if you need to chat.
Let's talk some impressive numbers now: About 25 tons have been hauled out of our river over the course of the 28-year volunteer effort. That trash is always sorted and considered, so count on people to keep track of what's happening with our river, even in terms of its garbage.
Also, if you're into weird finds, there's the "River Treasures" pile, where items deemed especially offbeat or "what the..?" end up.
Believe it: Not just gum wrappers and bottles are tossed into the LA River, but a whole host of "how'd this get here" stuff that always surprises and/or befuddles.
You have to believe that, at the end of each April, the LA River lets out a big, appreciative sigh, and feels a little lighter in spirit, and definitely in terms of being delightfully de-trashed. If you've ever swept a gum wrapper out of a crystalline pool, you know the satisfaction of helping water be its clear, lovely self.
Signing up? Total cinch. Lend a hand now.