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Friends of Plumas Wilderness drew 40 volunteers to its October cleanup day at Red Bridge Campground on the Middle Fork Feather River off La Porte Road. After the debris was removed, several hardy folks also installed a brand new sign for the Plumas National Forest. Photo by Trinity Stirling

River cleanup volunteers show the Middle Fork some love

The Friends of Plumas Wilderness (FPW) supporters really know how to throw a community river cleanup event — 40 people, including families and children, came out in October for the trash pickup project held at Red Bridge Campground with the Plumas National Forest.

It helped that the fall weather and Lost Sierra scenery were gorgeous.

Volunteers gloved-up and received their plastic bags before dispersing along the river. First off, there was a briefing from PNF Public Service Staff Officer Leslie Edlund and FPW board members Darrel Jury and Darla DeRuiter.

“Our role is to help the forest service achieve their goals and messages about public lands,” Jury said. “America’s public lands are our lands, so we want to do our part and partner with the PNF to protect these special places, especially the wilderness and our wild and scenic ecosystems.”

DeRuiter told the group that Friends of Plumas Wilderness has plans for additional events such as walking into the Bucks Lake Wilderness to the Pacific Crest Trail to inventory fencing, monitor erosion control and do restoration work on surface water areas. She invited the volunteers to join FPW on these and other stewardship events.

Edlund expressed the forest service’s appreciation for the clean-up work provided by the team.

“We’ve been building this relationship with FPW and the community for some time and it’s a positive thing for the forest and our area,” Edlund said as people fanned out across the campground.

She said this kind of environmental stewardship is actually necessary all year long and a similar effort was held locally last year for the 50th anniversary of the national Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

“Everybody hears about big needs, disasters and other things; these are little local things that we can do something about,” Edlund added, walking along in search of litter at the bluff near the bridge. “For example, there’s a lot of micro-trash that gets left behind when campers are hurrying to clean up, pack and head out. They often don’t see the bottle caps, cigarette butts and things like that, so these cleanups are a big help to keep the resource clean and in good condition for everyone.”

As the morning unfolded, volunteers began returning with interesting items in their bags.

In addition to the usual picnic leftovers like corn cobs, empty cans and plastic debris, they hauled up finds such as a rusty battery charger, old car parts and some kind of irrigation tubing.

PNF’s Edlund and the team leaders directed the safe disposal of every item and she said the partnership with Friends of Plumas Wilderness has been beneficial in a number of ways.

Signage and kiosk information has been installed at the Bucks Lake Trailhead, Bach’s Creek, Lost Cabin Springs and Pacific Crest Trail, with help from FPW.

There are many metrics the forest service must meet, so the nonprofit also carries out monitoring of wilderness characteristics such as solitude and PCT campsite conditions, among others.

“It really helps to have FPW as a main partner,” Edlund said, adding that lots of the Feather River’s wild and scenic portion is only reachable by trail.

Some of the terrain is very challenging and inaccessible.

“There’s a (particular) place where the wild river bends to the left and garbage catches there a lot,” Edlund explained. “I’d love to get to those remote places, explore them with equestrian groups, get in there and pack that debris out.”

The last of the litterbags were coming in and the cleanup volunteers gathered for the day’s final, fun project to dig postholes and install one of the forest service’s brand new signs marking the Middle Fork Feather River location at Red Bridge. Here was one case where many hands definitely made the work lighter.

Then it was down to the peaceful water’s edge for a complimentary picnic and free souvenir T-shirts (made of recycled content) designed by Quincy artist Brittany Harmon of the LostSierraCompany.com.

All in all, it was good day out on the Feather River.

For more information about Friends of Plumas Wilderness efforts, contact the nonprofit at plumaswilderness.org.

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