Opinion: Help is Needed for Our Waterways

FOR THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Over the past 16 months, volunteers from Sacramento Picks It Up! have removed over 700,000 pounds of trash and solid waste from the Sacramento region, a huge percentage of which was located right here in Natomas.

These volunteer cleanup events have included a dozen cleanups of abandoned encampments which spilled into Steelhead Creek adjacent to Garden Highway, countless cleanups in and around urban parks and canals, in and around Camp Pollock on the banks of the American River and many others along the Sacramento River.

Image of people sitting in six different kayaks. The kayaks are floating atop algae in a water retention basin.

Volunteers take to the water during the recent cleanup near the Tuscaro Apartment complex.

Most recently, Sacramento Picks It Up! partnered with Sacramento Heron and Egret Rescue to clean Natomas-area water retention basins in an effort to remove pollutants and improve wildlife habitat. Sacramento Picks It Up! efforts even inspired Inderkum High School student Ryland Davis to make habitat restoration and trash removal his senior project!

Image of a teenage boy wearing a red sweatshirt who is surrounded by garbage and debris collected along the river.

Ryland Davis cleaning along the Sacramento River.

This weekend, Sacramento Picks It Up! is expanding its geographical imprint by sponsoring a two-day trash cleanup in the Arcade Creek channel from Rio Linda Boulevard towards Marysville Boulevard. Volunteers will attempt to start removing years of accumulated pollution.

But Sacramento Picks It Up! does not just want to clean this small section of creek, the grassroots group also hopes to raise public awareness about the outrageously poor conditions in our area waterways and is advocating for much-needed action from our governing entities.

In the one-mile stretch of Arcade Creek being targeted this weekend, there are heaps of trash, 63 shopping carts, dozens of tires, mountains of illegally dumped items and encampment debris. During wetter months, this contaminated water flows into the Sacramento River just north of the confluence with the American River and out to The Delta.

Both rivers supply 80% of Sacramento’s drinking water.

No public agency is currently responsible for cleaning our trashed creek channels, leaving concerned citizens to take action. Our YouTube channel shows these deplorable conditions, including this one of Arcade Creek.


Arcade Creek runs a total of 16.2 miles through the region and represents the largest drainage basin of all local creeks. It has also historically provided habitats for fish, including spawning Salmon, and a multitude of other wildlife. Now legacy trash coats the creek with “bed armor,” literally choking life out of the creek and its wild inhabitants. Salmon have not been spotted there in years!

This two-day event will take place 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31 at 3200 Rio Linda Blvd in Sacramento. It is co-hosted by the Arcade Creek Adopt-a-Creek Project with support from the American River Flood Control District.

Sacramento Picks It Up! is a grassroots, volunteer-run clean up group formed in March 2021. Our 1900 members create multiple weekly events in both urban and natural locations. This two-day event is part of SPIU’s “Keep Our Rivers Wild” campaign. For additional info, please find us on Facebook at  or email [email protected].

Sacramento Picks It Up! volunteers cleaning up a drainage canal in Natomas.

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