One of the largest threats to the ecological health of Santa Paula Canyon is the amount of trash that careless hikers leave behind. With the amount of traffic the canyon receives, even if a small number of visitors discard their trash, the amount of water bottles, sandwich bags, cans, and other small bits of trash builds up quickly in the canyon. This trash can pose significant health threats to condors, steelhead, and other sensitive wildlife. It not cleaned up, the trash can flow downstream and eventually into the ocean, polluting our creeks and beaches.
Removing trash from the canyon is incredibly difficult. In the past, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office has even utilized helicopters to do so, but most often volunteers are required to hike out dozens of pounds of trash from the canyon, carrying it as far as five miles.
ForestWatch will continue to document the level of trash and organize volunteer cleanups when necessary. Ultimately, proactive and preventative measures against trash accumulation must be taken to ensure that the environment of this canyon remains healthy and pristine. Additional signage at the trailhead highlighting “leave no trace” ethics, and installation a formal waste receptacle, would encourage trail users to dispose of their trash properly.