The back property line behind our house runs down the middle of the Guadalupe River here in San Jose, California. We noticed over the weekend that the homeless had started to build another camp on the river (in the same place that they burned down some trees and bushes last year). The new camp is upriver and on the other bank from our house, in the area managed by the water district. We talked with the San Jose Police Metro Unit today and they said they would look into it.
Our riverbank is very steep. It is mostly built up with chunks of concrete overgrown with blackberry vines, ivy, cottonwood trees, dracenas, and some prickly pear cactus. There are also two large oaks, a big pepper tree and several smaller peppers. Flood control downstream seems to be helping but the river has risen almost to the top of the banks each winter.
John and I climbed down the bank to check things out. Upstream at the waterline, we came upon this large pool of floating trash caught against some submerged logs. It was mostly made up of bottles, bags, pillows, and toys but there was also shredded styrofoam, building materials, and even syringes and pens. All artifacts from the houses, bridges, and roads upstream.
After the rain last week, the river is at least three feet deep at that spot. That is, too deep for safe wading in murky water full of sharp things. So, John got some trash bags and a cultivator hoe and we hooked out three trash cans full from the bank. The pillows, stuffed animals, and shoes were the hardest to get out. A family of mallard ducks came to visit while we were there.
There was still lots of floating trash when we quit for the day. I hope to have time to get more out during this week’s holiday break.
Images by Katy Dickinson (Copyright 2006)