Students Clean Up 500 Pounds of Trash Along Sespe Tributary

Target shooting trash was no match for this group of students from Besant Hill School!

On Sunday, December 3, a group of 24 sophomore students from Besant Hill School in Ojai teamed up with ForestWatch to spend their morning removing nearly 500 pounds of trash from along Cherry Creek in the Los Padres National Forest.

The group loaded up in a school bus bright and early on Sunday morning before heading up the mountains to Cherry Creek. Once at there, they split into three teams to tackle various old target shooting sites along the creek that feeds into the Wild and Scenic Sespe Creek.

Each team focused on a mixture of microtrash – small pieces of broken glass, plastic, and metal that endangered California condors have been known to feed to their chicks – and larger pieces of shooting trash. Shotgun shells, bullet casings, blasted electronics, and clay pigeons were the common pieces of trash scattered across the sites. One student even found what seemed to be an old shot-up mini-fridge and a shopping cart hidden in the chaparral.

Oh the things we find in the bushes.

After only a couple of hours, this incredible group of students had collected nearly 500 pounds from three sites spanning an acre of land. We had a great time working with these young volunteers who worked nonstop through the chilly weather.

The entire Cherry Creek watershed was permanently closed to target shooting in 2011 as a result of efforts by ForestWatch to protect the sensitive area. ForestWatch organized a couple of large cleanups that removed several tons of trash from the shooting sites in 2011 and 2012. While the closure helped significantly reduce trash accumulation, a few people still illegally shoot in the area. We have continued to remove trash from the area since 2012.

We plan to take more volunteers to the site to finish removing the leftover microtrash next year. See below for more photos from the cleanup.

Photos by Bryant Baker

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