Two tons of trash disposed in another successful Canyon Day

Jung Kim, The Mesa Press.

Thomas Frey, Sports Editor

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No trash bags managed to stay empty in Tecolote Canyon on Apr. 12 as over 180 volunteers took part in the seventh annual Canyon Day at Mesa College in an effort to preserve the ecology of its surrounding communities.

“What we do about once a year at this time is clean this branch of Tecolote Canyon…to help raise awareness about our canyons,” explained Lina Heil, the director of Mesa College Public Information.

The event began at 9 a.m. as groups of volunteers were assigned various tasks to fulfill, including picking up littered cigarette butts, cleaning up abandoned homeless shelters and cutting down foreign plants, such as arundo, that disrupt the ecology of the canyon.

“Arundo is like bamboo,” Heil described. “It is very, very invasive, and it is not indigenous to the canyon. So, we really want to move that out because that goes downstream, and it kills the native plants.”

Many truckloads of unwanted plant life were sent back to the base from the overgrowth sites to be disposed in a huge dumpster. Overall, around two tons of trash, including bicycles, half of a motorcycle, a car engine and other debris were collected by 11:30 a.m. as the event concluded.

According to Mesa College President Pamela T. Luster, Canyon Day was created with two objectives in mind.

“The agreement we have made with the community is not just to take care of the canyon, but to educate kids on how they can take care of the environment,” Luster emphasized. “My hope this year is that we are able to do that effectively.”

The event was a complete team effort by the members of the Mesa community, including San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation, San Diego Police Department, and Mesa College students and faculty.

Among the attendees was the Mesa College Honors Club President Sarah Farmer, who further explained the event’s significance:

“Volunteering to help make a difference within our community is essential to building upon student life and success. By attending Canyon Day, students get the chance to work with their peers, form connections and learn more about how we affect nature around us — all while giving students the chance to become stronger, more self-aware individuals that may help them realize that they have the power and skills to potentially change the world around them.”

The attendance has remained consistent as Heil estimated that there were between 180-200 volunteers this year compared to 208 last year.

“It’s been very successful.” Heil remarked. “I think people are having fun. We are pretty happy the way it is.”

Regarding future events, Luster hopes that they stay “dedicated to this partnership pretty much for the life of the college,” and that “it would be nice if…more of the younger kids come from Canyon Classroom,” an educational program geared toward second and third graders that takes place a week after Canyon Day according to Heil.

“But it’s a lot of work to get kids here,” Luster acknowledged in the end.

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