National Coastal Cleanup Day took place on Saturday, September 21, but in Topanga there is a realization that cleaning up the creek is not a once-a-year job.
In August, Rosi Dagit, Sr. Biologist, Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, the RCDSMM staff, and volunteers pitched in for the local Creek Cleanup effort that collected 2.5 tons from under the bridge and the creek behind Topanga Creek Center, and a section of Old Topanga Canyon Road.
A month later, Dagit reports: “The event on September 21, was well attended with 21 volunteers assisting in the cleanup in Topanga. In two hours, they collected one ton of material that filled three-quarters of the dumpster.
“The good news is that the bridge by what was Abuelitas restaurant [now offices for Pritchett Rapf Realtors], was still clean after the August cleanup,” Dagit told the Messenger Mountain News.
“The bad news is that, in addition to the two encampments I checked with the Sheriff’s Department before the event, there were three more old ones that we removed. We found one man in an active encampment up on the hill. We did not touch his stuff but asked him to bring down his trash to put in the dumpster. That didn’t happen.
Dagit described an encampment hidden in the dry arundo patch as “very scary. We found a propane torch, lots of butane lighters, various drug paraphernalia, knives, and a leaf blower,” she said. “The fire risk from this kind of encampment is extreme.
“Last, but definitely not least, I was on poop patrol and collected two large hefty trash bags full of human waste.” Dagit said the piles were in the currently dry creek channel, but still create a health hazard.
“The amount of human feces in the creek has definitely increased since the Port-A-Potty was removed, she said. “Not only is it a serious water quality issue but a public health hazard, as well.”
RCD urges the businesses in the Topanga Creek Center and others in the community to donate to the Topanga Town Council (onetopanga.org) to reinstate the Port-A-Potty.
“While it was there, it provided a place for folks to go other than the creek and was maintained on a regular basis. We really need to figure this one out, and the sooner the better,” says Dagit.
Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve Report
“In a joint effort with the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society and Heal the Bay, the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains (RCDSMM) was part of the Coastal Cleanup Day event that took place at Haskell Creek where it runs through the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve,” reports Kelly Kazmirchuk. RCD Education Program Coordinator.
“As well as cleaning up Haskell Creek, more than 150 volunteers had the chance to participate in hands-on activities that the RCD set up,” Kazmirchuk said. “We wanted people to leave really understanding that they made a difference.
The activities included an interactive watershed model that shows the path the trash takes to the ocean if it is not removed, an opportunity to test the pH of the water, and samples of household items to see the impact of pollutants on water quality. The crowd favorite was the live plankton that volunteers were able to view through microscopes.
“The college students who came out to make a difference really loved making the connection between community service and science,” Kazmirchuk said. “By the end of the day, 3,350 pounds were removed from a half-mile stretch of Haskell Creek.”
For information or to donate to support RCDSM, visit rcdsmm.org, or call ( 805) 338-7172.