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Trash From Homeless Encampments Takes Over Oceanside Nature Preserve

Trash left behind from homeless encampments at the Quarry Creek Preserve in Oceanside. February 18, 2021.
Tania Thorne
Trash left behind from homeless encampments at the Quarry Creek Preserve in Oceanside. February 18, 2021.

Conservation groups say pollution and homeless encampments threaten nature preserves throughout San Diego.

Volunteers with the San Diego Habitat Conservancy and A Cleaner North County worked together on Thursday to clean the Quarry Creek Preserve in Oceanside.

Trash From Homeless Encampments Take Over Oceanside Nature Preserve
Listen to this story by Tania Thorne.

The preserve is nestled between home developments and shopping centers. Mario Quinones, a private canyon ranger with Black Sage Environment, describes what he often encounters.

“Down right over here on the river bed you’ll see most of the trash that the homeless bring in. Anywhere from furniture, fencing, mattresses, couches to as little as your common trash,” he said.

Equipped with trash bags, gloves and tongs, volunteers entered the canyon to do their part and clean up what they can.

Colby Schexnayder, CEO of A Cleaner North County, established the organization after noticing the need in North County.

“I’ve been volunteering on my own just picking up trash where I see it and once you start doing that your mind stops tuning it out and you realize just how big of a problem it is,” he said.

Thursday, Schexnayder collaborated with the San Diego Habitat Conservancy.

Volunteers with the “San Diego Habitat Conservancy” and “A Cleaner North County” worked together to clean the Quarry Creek Preserve in Oceanside. February 18, 2021.
Vince Rivas
Volunteers with the “San Diego Habitat Conservancy” and “A Cleaner North County” worked together to clean the Quarry Creek Preserve in Oceanside. February 18, 2021.

Vince Rivas, a habitat manager with the group said, “We manage over 2,000 acres worth of private preserve properties throughout the county and it's our responsibility for making sure that these properties stay healthy for the wildlife and vegetation that call this area home.”

Both organizations will continue to target areas throughout San Diego and are always looking for new volunteers.