By Sharon Gibbons
Last week, The Watershed Project, in collaboration with the City of Richmond, sponsored three days of trash clean-up of Meeker Slough and the immediate Bay shoreline. Hosted by Helen Dickson, our Living Shoreline Manager, a community of UC Berkeley art students and concerned Richmond Marina Bay residents worked to restore the waterway and clean out several years of accumulated trash. We were faced with large piles of plastic bags, Styrofoam cups, food wrappers and straws that lined the beautiful slough where freshwater winds down through the tidal marsh and out into the Bay. The King Tides that had happened during the winter pushed the trash levels into even higher and more dramatic piles.
The clean-up started with about twenty UC Berkeley students visiting the shoreline near Meeker Slough to both clean up and to collect trash to transform into art pieces. These students were part of the Introduction to Visual Thinking class taught by Sahar Khoury and were directed to pick a particular object, like tennis balls, or particular colors of trash to collect for an art project to reflect on the object’s past history and meaning. Many of the students had never picked up trash before and were surprised at the quantity of garbage washed up on the shoreline.
The Marina Bay residents worked with us the next two days and were very pleased to clean up their “back yard.” Residents had been pushing for trash clean-up for years and The Watershed Project supported their efforts. A total of 25 residents collected almost 900 pounds of trash over two days; and there is still more to get. The residents would like to see cleanups become an ongoing and regular project to keep the slough and the shoreline clean.
Meeker Slough is part of the sensitive habitat for the endangered Ridgeway Rail and home to marsh wildlife: recently, a family of Gray Foxes was sighted nearby. Both local and migrating shorebirds and ducks call the Meeker Slough home. The slough intersects the Bay Trail which is a popular trail to walk and enjoy the Bay. It’s also one of the best trails for seeing a sunset on the Bay. We are fortunate to have such a special place as part of our backyard, and The Watershed Project is thrilled to work with the City of Richmond to support it.