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Community Volunteers Clean Up The San Diego River

San Diego River Park Foundation staff and community volunteers gather during ...

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

Above: San Diego River Park Foundation staff and community volunteers gather during the 18th annual 'San Diego River Days' cleanup at the Mission Valley Preserve on May 14, 2021.

The San Diego River Park Foundation held its 18th annual "San Diego River Days" cleanup at the Mission Valley Preserve on Friday.

The Foundation with about 30 community volunteers expected to collect about 1,800 pounds of trash and debris from the riverbed.

This is the Foundation's first event with community volunteers since the pandemic started.

Sarah Hutmacher, chief associate director of the San Diego River Park Foundation, loves having community volunteers helping with their events.

“We’re so jazzed to be able to bring the community back to these cleanups,” she said.

Volunteer Linda Harshberger has been with the Foundation for almost 20 years and is ecstatic to be around people again.

“Oh my gosh, I’m outside with people," Harshberger said. "It’s an amazing experience.”

Video by Roland Lizarondo

A small, core group of volunteers work year-round cleaning up various parts of the river valley, but events like San Diego River Days are especially important.

“It’s important to feel a part of your community. It’s important to know what’s happening in your community,” Harshberger said.

“What we really try to do is get people together to be the voice for the river, so that it just has a lot of people that are advocating for its success and longevity so it can continue to do what it does for the people in San Diego,” Hutmacher said.

The Foundation stays organized is with a mobile app.

The River Park Foundation collects all of their trash data through a mapping device they’ve developed that’s powered by a smartphone. They have teams that go out four days a week to collect very detailed data on areas.

“It helps us be really precise with where we use our volunteers," Hutmacher said, "so we send the right tools for the job. We know whether to send Marines or girl scouts to come do the work, so we have the right crew.”

There are free activities continuing through this weekend. People can go to to sign up.


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Melissa Mae
Freelance Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a freelance reporter, I cover a wide variety of stories. One day I may cover the current COVID-19 situation and the next day my story may be about a San Diego landmark. With a background in sports broadcasting, any time I get to cover a sports story is an added bonus! I love covering stories about the place I am lucky enough to call home, San Diego.

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