Highlights and Sticky Notes:Cynthia Gailey identifies herself first and foremost as an environmentalist, and she’s fully aware that homeless encampments have contributed heavily to the trashing of Chico’s waterways. The degradation, she says, is appalling.Still, it’s not as if the camps’ inhabitants have access to household comforts such as toilets, showers, laundry machines or garbage pick-up, Gailey says. As the coordinator for Safe Space, the seasonal, cold-weather homeless shelter hosted at rotating locations, she argues that the solution is providing unsheltered people with adequate facilities and services, not creating new laws that only “further criminalize homelessness.”
The environmental impacts are serious. Last year, Butte Environmental Council’s annual Bidwell Park & Chico Creeks Cleanup—which aims to remove litter from the waterways before rain washes it downstream—pulled an estimated 30 tons of garbage from the creeks. It was a record amount of trash, far surpassing the previous high of 23,000 pounds in 2002. (BEC has tracked the trash haul since 1987.)This year is shaping up about the same, based on accounts of volunteers who have worked in the waterways ahead of the cleanup, which is taking place on Saturday (Sept. 19), said BEC Executive Director Robyn DiFalco.
“We’re hearing the conditions are really similar to last year,” she said. “We’re expecting to collect just as much material so long as the same number of volunteers come out again.”
The volunteers pick up plenty of “typical everyday litter,” DiFalco said, but the vast majority of trash, by both weight and volume, comes from homeless encampments. However, she doesn’t want people blaming homeless people alone for the waste in the waterways.
“This is all part of the bigger situation in our community and society,” she said. “Our role at BEC is to facilitate the community having a positive impact and getting out there for the cleanup.”Tags: BEC, Chico, Butte County, Community, Chico Creeks Cleanupby: becnews