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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
STOCKTON FWO: Service Partners With Local Efforts to Clean Up Waterways
Region 8, March 14, 2009
Beth Campbell from the Stockton FWO getting the necessary tools to remove trash and invasive plants.  (photo: Jim Marsh)
Beth Campbell from the Stockton FWO getting the necessary tools to remove trash and invasive plants. (photo: Jim Marsh) - Photo Credit: n/a

 

By Beth Campbell and JD Wikert, Stockton FWO
Staff from the Stockton Fish and Wildlife Office (FWO) partnered with local groups and community members to clean up two local waterways earlier this year. 

On Saturday, February 21, 2009, Beth Campbell of the Stockton FWO took part in the Friends of the Lower Calaveras River (FLCR) Annual Polar Bear Cleanup, sponsored by Defenders of Wildlife (Defenders), and organized by Fishery Foundation biologist Kari Burr.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Defenders and the Fishery Foundation are among several partners in the FLCR.  Approximately 240 community members met at the Calaveras River on the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton, and from there, boated, biked, and dragged trash out of the Calaveras River all day, filling up two large dumpsters.  The City of Stockton provided the dumpsters, trash bags and gloves, and the Stockton Fire and Police Departments provided safety personnel. Other community donors provided food, water, and even a backhoe.  Beth and her kayak assisted specifically in the removal of giant reed (Arundo donax), an invasive plant that chokes riparian areas and stream channels, and reduces habitat quality for native fish and wildlife.  Even though Chinook salmon and steelhead are present in the cooler months, the lower Calaveras River largely is degraded due to the effects of water diversion, channelization, water quality impacts, and invasion by Arundo donax and other exotic species.  Much of the river channel looks like a drainage ditch due to extensive re-routing through the City of Stockton, partly for flood control.  FLCR’s mission is to increase public awareness about the river as a valuable resource to the Stockton community, and to support fish habitat protection and restoration efforts such as the removal of fish migration barriers that has begun with the assistance of the Stockton East Water District.

On March 14, 2009, J.D. Wikert and Ramon Martin from the Stockton FWO helped clean up the Stanislaus River.  A group of eight people representing FWS, Cramer Fish Sciences, the California Department of Fish and Game, and the Stanislaus River Fly Fishers floated the river while collecting trash.  J.D. Wikert donned a wetsuit to cover the deeper areas.  Beer bottles and cans were found most frequently.  Cans were frequently occupied by sculpin (a small fish) or crayfish, which typically inhabit gravelly areas.  A deflated raft, a fishing pole, many unpaired sandals, a ceramic cat tchotchke (knickknack), and a fire hose comprised the more interesting debris.  In all, 12 bags of garbage were removed from the river during this event.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided dumpsters for the trash.  The Stanislaus River is not as degraded as the Calaveras River, but its current condition is greatly impacted by water diversions and flood control levees.  These Stanislaus River partner organizations hope to increase public awareness about the Chinook salmon and steelhead populations in the river, and to gain public support for spawning gravel and floodplain restoration projects intended to improve conditions for these fish.

Jeremy Terhune (Defenders of Wildlife) contributed to this story.

Contact Info: Ramon Martin, 209-334-2968 ext. 401, ramon_martin@fws.gov