Citizen volunteers tackle trash in Chico

The City of Chico says additional stress to Public Works services post Camp Fire and already limited resources, are impacting the city’s ability to address the issue of trash and litter.

Posted: Mar 26, 2019 8:11 AM
Updated: Mar 26, 2019 10:14 AM

CHICO, Calif. – When someone sees trash along the side of a road, there's a good chance the reaction isn't positive. The City of Chico said additional stress to post-Camp Fire Public Works services and already limited resources are impacting the city's ability to address the issue.

In numerous locations throughout the city, citizens often see plastic bottles, cardboard boxes and sometimes garbage bags filled with trash littered along roadways.

Over recent weekends, a handful of concerned citizens have come together to tackle one area—Cohasset Road in north Chico.
Volunteer Tami Henrikson, along with her husband and the family pet, joined a handful of others to clean up the stretch of road. They came out two weekends in a row, and even after filling more than 20 bags of refuse, the task still isn't complete.

Henrikson said the situation concerns her. She has seen nearby cows eating Styrofoam and plastic and the accumulating trash is a visual eye-sore.

Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough also noticed an increasing amount of trash along the roadway. She joined the volunteers to tackle the problem and asked the Chico City Manager if the excess trash could be related to post Camp Fire population and traffic increases.

In recent months, hundreds more have traveled the area with staff, students and teachers from Paradise High School using a temporary location near the Chico Airport. There are some 70 state employees operating from the Cal OES base camp; also situated near the Chico Municipal Airport. That is in addition to normal business operations of industry located in the region.

City Manager Mark Orme said the City of Chico has seen a dramatic impact in a variety of areas with regards to refuge and trash. He said the city has seen a dramatic increase over the past number of months.

However, he said the increase is part of a larger trend that was developing even before the Camp Fire.

He said city crews picked up 40 cubic yards of trash in 2009. That amount doubled to 80 cubic yards in 2014. But within the past two years, Orme said the amount doubled again to 160 cubic yards.

Volunteer Shelly Rogers said she noticed an increase in garbage throughout the city. She said she's seeing more clothing, fast food wrappers, single-use cups and cigarette butts.

"You name it, there's definitely more of it," Rogers said.

Shane Romain, with the City of Chico Parks Division, said volunteers contributed more than 25-thousand hours of work to help clean up the city's parks, greenways, waterways and roads last year.

The city has public work crews, but there isn't a specific team devoted to litter pick-up. The two full-time rangers split their regular duties with overseeing the volunteer trash clean-up groups that work throughout the city.

Ranger Lisa Barge said the city doesn't have the staff to cover the entire city and credits volunteers with keeping the area clean.

Individuals who want to make a difference can contact the City of Chico Parks Division for information on forming a citizen-led volunteer group or joining the existing program, known as PALS – Partners, Ambassadors, Leaders and Stewards.

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