Welcome! This blog is inspired by the Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve in Gardena, California.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Troubles with Trash

The Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve shares a problem with other urban preserves and parks – trash.   Whether it blows in on the wind, is tossed over the fence or washes in with street water run-off, the end result is the same; either the trash is removed by volunteers or it ends up in the ocean.   Neither option is pretty.
The best long-term solution is to prevent trash from entering the wetland.  To this end, The Friends of the Preserve installed trash barriers along the streets bordering the Preserve. This low tech solution decreased the amount of blown-in trash.   But paper, cans and bottles still wash into the Preserve with every rain storm.    Much of this ends up in wetland areas that are difficult to access for cleanup.  

Some of the biggest problem areas are near the drainage pipes that release street water run-off directly into the Preserve. The plastic bags and other materials destroy peaceful views and are a hazard to ducks and other wildlife.   That’s why trash removal is an on-going part of Preserve maintenance.
Picking up trash in a wetland is not glamorous work.   It requires patience, good balance and a high tolerance for wet feet.   In January, a group of community volunteers (including students from the Gardena High School Interact Club) tried a new approach.  First they removed trash brought in by a recent rainstorm (see above).  And then they installed a fence-weir to trap trash and prevent it from entering the wetlands. 

The fence-weir is constructed of plastic coated welded-wire fencing material held in place by steel fence posts.  It  was installed in an area near new Hampshire Street – an area with significant street-water run-off.       Friends Board Member Kelley Dawdy worked with students determine placement of the fence-weir.    After pounding in the fence posts, students attached the fencing.    The result was a trash collecting fence that blends into the landscape except when filled with trash. 
A recent rainstorm tested the new fence-weir.   In short, it works.  The weir collected trash that might otherwise have polluted the Preserve and the ocean.   Now we just have to collect the trash from the weir and that’s a real improvement.  But the ultimate solution lies with all of us who live, work and enjoy the Gardena area.   It’s up to us to prevent trash from traveling down the storm drains and into our jewel of a Preserve.

February 11, 2013                    Constance M. Vadheim (Friends of Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve)