Taking cleanup into their own hands
Wildplaces reacts to Federal shutdown of Giant Sequoia National Monument
This past weekend, volunteers from Wildplaces, a community benefits organization focusing on land and water restoration and protection in the southern Sierra, took personal responsibility of the Tule River during the ongoing federal government shutdown.
By removing trash and gang tagging along the river, volunteers continue a ten-year history of stewardship projects that keep public lands healthy and open to the public and tourism. More events are planned.
Actions such as these, conducted by volunteers and led by Wildplaces, have been occurring well before the current financial crisis. Since 2001, the organization’s three programs (Rio Limpio: River Stewardship, 100 Giants, and Immersed in the Wild programs) have hosted thousands of volunteers on over 200 volunteer-driven, place-based stewardship events on public lands. The closure of parks and
national forests throughout the country doesn’t change much in the habits of Wildplaces.
“While our small band of dedicated volunteers are important in maintaining the long-term picture of a healthy Giant Sequoia National Monument (GSNM), we are not the replacement for a solid Forest Service budget that includes recreation officers, wilderness rangers, and interpretive staff,” says Mehmet Mcmillan, founder of Wildplaces.
Considered one of the world’s premiere tourist destinations, the Giant Sequoia National Monument celebrates the oldest and largest living things on earth – the Giant Sequoias. Millions of dollars annually are spent in Tulare, Kern, and Fresno Counties on recreation and tourism. Travel and tourism are important to communities in the Giant Sequoia region, representing about 16% of total private wage and salary employment, or 55,100 jobs, in 2015.
In California, the Outdoor Industry Association reported that recreation contributes more than $85 billion annually to the state’s economy.
Interested volunteers can reach Wildplaces for upcoming dates on the river and at the trail of 100 Giants this Spring by calling 559.539.5263 or [email protected] wildplaces.net. More information about Wildplaces can be found at www.wildplaces.net. Wildplaces is funded in part by CA Wildlands Grassroots Fund, Wildspaces, and the Rose Foundation.
Above and Below: A group of volunteers led by local conservation group Wildplaces spent time last weekend picking up trash and removing gang tagging along the Tule River inside the Giant Sequoia National Monument east of Springville.