Community clears debris from Rocks Road

Volunteers mobilize for Saturday morning cleanup of illegal dumping near Highway 101.
Cleaning under brush. Photo by Carmel de Bertaut.
Photo by Carmel de Bertaut.
San Benito County Supervisor Anthony Botelho (center) and other volunteers. Photo by Carmel de Bertaut.
San Benito County Supervisor Anthony Botelho (center) and other volunteers. Photo by Carmel de Bertaut.
Recology donated a large dumpster for the clean up, which was full in less than three hours. Photo by Carmel de Bertaut.

Over 20 volunteers gathered Feb. 23 to clean up trash illegally dumped on Rocks Road near Highway 101.

Volunteers worked almost nonstop from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to clear away debris on the road and near the San Benito River. Some of the refuse found included fluorescent bulbs, tires, diapers, clothing, food packaging, electronics and construction materials. Recology provided a large dumpster that was filled by the end of the cleanup.

Organizer Catalina Marquez, who said she’s traveled the road for years, told BenitoLink she called the city of San Juan Bautista after she saw exposed motor oil among the debris. When she found out the city lacked a cleanup program, Marquez took it upon herself to “help out Mother Earth.”

Barbara Rubio of Friends of San Benito River arrived before 9 a.m. Dressed in a yellow vest and gloves, she set to work close to where several old tires and electronics were dumped.

“It breaks my heart to see our beautiful land ruined,” Rubio said.

Supervisor Anthony Botelho was also at the site to lend a hand.

“There is nothing worse than garbage just thrown everywhere on a beautiful country road,” Botelho said. “Concerned citizens want to keep our environment the way it should be.” Speaking of the dumping on Rocks Road, he said, “People who do this don’t have respect for themselves and, like I said at the board meeting, don’t have respect for our community.”

Other volunteers included retired teacher and BenitoLink contributor Jim Ostick and Paul Champion, fleet manager in the San Juan Bautista Public Works department.

Champion said he used to drive the road daily on his commute from Aromas and was disgusted by the mess. He stopped using the road because he did not want to see the trash and felt it could be unsafe if a driver encountered someone dumping trash after dark. After the cleanup Champion volunteered to take electronics for recycling.

“My heart was full with pride and joy,” said Marquez, who added that she is forming the Aromas-San Juan Bautista Preservation Resource Collective to continue cleaning up illegal dumping.

Liz Grajeda, another organizer, said the volunteer group plans to host a cleanup on Canyon Road, as that location is frequently used for illegal dumping.


Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.