Keeping the Sacramento River clean

Shareen Strauss
River Exchange volunteers along with Dunsmuir community members display some of the trash that was collected along the upper Sacramento River during the 27th Annual River Exchange Cleanup Saturday morning.

Hundreds of pounds of trash were cleared from the banks of the upper Sacramento River on Saturday during the River Exchange’s 27th annual River Cleanup event.

Teams of volunteers from around Siskiyou County and Redding made up of more than 50 people met in Dunsmuir to pick up garbage from popular spots along the Sacramento River, from Lake Siskiyou to Lakehead. A group of students from Cassie Hansen’s College of the Siskiyous Environmental Science and Physical Geography classes also volunteered.

“We are putting the discretion of environmental science into action,” said Hansen.

All trash collectors were armed with picker-uppers, gloves, heavy duty trash bags, maps and directions to the different locations.

Along the river in Dunsmuir there are two long time hobo camps and a newer camp that has been named the ‘Dirty Kids Camp.’

One hobo camp is across from Tauhindauli Park, under the 800-foot bridge and the other is across the river from the Dunsmuir City Park’s amphitheater along the railroad tracks.

The Dirty Kids Camp is under the River Avenue Bridge.

“For the most part, the hobo camps are part of the community, accepted or not,” said Dunsmuir City Councilor Dave Keisler. “These hobos spend their money in our stores. Lately, they are keeping their camps clean. This year was the cleanest they have kept it, placing their garbage in a bag for us with a note that says, ‘Keep the forest clean.’”

Sponsored by Michael Swords Construction, Keisler along with Sheri Dinterman and Joe Severin, together with others, collected 325 pounds of rubbish from two of the hobo camps, which included a couple of car seats.

River Exchange volunteer Alden Silber said they’re weighing all the trash at the Dunsmuir city Yard “to show people how much we do.”

“This way, we can get grant funding,” Silber said. “This gives us an idea of how much people litter at popular locations. By 10 a.m. we received eight pounds of garbage from Prospect to Hedge Creek. We also received a truckload of tires that were dumped at the Berry Estate.”

Hansen’s husband, Spencer Adkisson, brough the couple’s two small children along for the cleanup.

“I volunteer to take care of our local environment because it takes care of us,” Adkisson said.

It is a simple thing to do that has a big impact.”

COS students Grace Parker and Kaitlyn Edwards collected trash along the Cantara Loop.

“I wasn’t aware of the spill here,” said Parker. “I have learned a lot today.”

“This makes an impact. We should do these improvements in other towns around here,” said Edwards.

Retired Siskiyou County Judge Chris Stromsness, who is one of the founders of the River Exchange, said, “We’ve accomplished a lot of good in our 27 years. Because of the other events in Dunsmuir today, there was a low turnout which was disappointing. But we had fun.”

After three hours of work, all the volunteers were treated to free pizza and salad in the Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens. Prizes were awarded to those who met the criteria in the different categories. They included a “funny” piece of rubbish, a piece that’s recyclable, the heaviest, the most unusual, and the most artistic. There were also sponsored “gold rocks” to be found amongst the popular trash sites and those who found them also received prizes.

The River Exchange is open to the public and they are always seeking new members. Their monthly meetings are at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at Dunsmuir Brew Works, located at 5701 Dunsmuir Avenue in Dunsmuir.

For more information, visit their website at