Housing / Land Use

San Benito River gets big help from its friends

A small group decides to face the accumulation of trash along the San Benito River head-on.
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Jennifer Hirsch shovels trash with another volunteer along the banks of the San Benito River.  Photo by Leslie David
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Mark Hirsch, a relatively new resident to Hollister, lives in a neighborhood not far from the San Benito River. He drives by the river all the time and sees the trash scattered down below. This Saturday, Feb. 24, he and a group of friends, including a county supervisor and city council member, got started doing something about the mess.

Hirsch told BenitoLink that he has been involved in Friends of Guadalupe River in Santa Clara County doing similar projects cleaning up along that river area. He also said that a positive byproduct of the experience was community building thru volunteering.

Seeing online discussions about the condition of the river on the Facebook page “What’s going on in Hollister” convinced Hirsch that the time was right to put together a workday. He enlisted the help of his friend Noreen Fortune and his daughter Jennifer and they posted signs around, setting the meeting time and place.

At least a dozen people showed up. Supervisor Mark Medina and Hollister City Council member Jim Gillio came to pitch in. Medina said RJR Recycling donated a dumpster for the effort and Waste Connection, the landfill is not charging fees for them to dump the trash and items they have.

Jim Gillio brought his family along and helped load up pickups parked along the river with trash. By early afternoon Saturday, the team had filled the dumpster beyond half full. 

Nathanael Lierly was throwing junk into the dumpster and trying to smash it down when Stacie McGrady pulled up in a pickup with another full load. McGrady, Lierly and Jennifer Hirsch started in on the big pile of trash and oddball articles and had it unloaded in just a few minutes.

Hersh said the group was also provided a safety container for used needles. By the end of the work session, it was about 1/3 full of needles found just laying around near the river and in the brush. There were also car parts, teddy bears, mattresses, shopping carts etc.

“We’re not assigning any blame as to who, what and why but just want to help clean it up,” he said.

Everyone seemed pleased with the progress they had made but Hirsch said there is still a lot more to be done.

To find out about their next workday, Hirsch suggested going to their new Facebook page, “Friends of San Benito River” to find out about their next date. 


Leslie David

Leslie David is a Bay Area independent reporter/producer and is a BenitoLink founding board member. She has produced for radio, television, newspaper and magazines in both California and Wyoming. She was with KRON-TV News in San Francisco as camera-woman, editor and field producer, where she won the Commonwealth Club's Thomas Storke Award with Linda Yee for their series on the Aids Epidemic. She started as a small market news reporter shooting her own 16mm film at KEYT-TV Santa Barbara. Leslie lives on a ranch with her family in San Benito County.