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March 26, 2012

Eight TONS of Ocean-Bound Trash Removed in Los Laureles Canyon

by Paloma Aguirre
Photo by WiLDCOAST

WiLDCOAST's Environmental Promoters help in the effort.

On Saturday March 24th a cleanup event took place in Los Laureles canyon as part of the citywide community cleanup event of Salvemos la Playa in the city of Tijuana. Over 35 volunteers participated, including environmental promoters trained through the EPA funded Cañón Limpio project led by WiLDCOAST and Tijuana Calidad de Vida.

Approximately eight tons of trash were removed from a highly degraded rural area in Los Laureles referred to as the Alacrán Canyon (Scorpion canyon).  In meetings held in earlier weeks the environmental promoters (volunteer members from the community working to address trash issues in the canyon) had described this area as highly rural with no trash collection services and ranches with unregulated free-ranging livestock. “It is embarrassing for us who live by this place” said Alma a local resident an part of the group “it smells so bad! We should clean that area so they can see us working and maybe they won't trash the place so much”.

The city donated two four-ton capacity trucks to haul away the trash and waste collected by the volunteers. For three hours volunteers sorted through organic waste to collect all the inorganic waste accumulated on the street. A neighboring rancher called Don Lupe helped by lending a couple of shovels and a rake. “They come and dump in the middle of the night here in front of my house” he said “ this trash isn’t ours” As if on cue a truck full of old broken television parts and pieces pulled up to the site and stopped only to then turn around and leave. “He wanted to throw his trash here but didn’t know we would be here” said one of the younger volunteers" this road has no way out so he couldn’t have been on his way anywhere”  “I’m glad he got embarrassed”.

Los Laureles canyon is home to over 65,000 residents of whom only 45% have access to trash collection services. Through its Cañón Limpio project WiLDCOAST is working to increase the capacity of local residents through trainings and workshops to better manage trash by finding alternative solutions like recycling and composting.

“I know that people throw trash in the creek because they see other people doing the same, but if we set a good example I know many people will follow. And the more we are doing the right thing the better our community will be” said Alma.

Cañon Limpio is a collaborative project between WiLDCOAST and Tijuana Calidad de Vida supported by the Institute of Municipal Planning of the City of Tijuana. It is funded through EPA's Border 2012 program. 

WiLDCOAST's U.S.-Mexico Border Coastal Program works to protect and restore the Pacific Ocean shoreline from Rosarito Mexico to Coronado, CA including the Tijuana River Watershed through advocacy, policy change and community stakeholder engagement.