Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
It’s hard to fathom what 1.5 million pounds of trash might look like — and more troubling still to see that much litter wash downstream in the Russian River to the Pacific Ocean.
Standing in the way to make sure that doesn’t happen has been Chris Brokate, who in 2015 decided one day he no longer could watch as the watershed was transformed into a dumping ground, with litter and debris swept out to sea amid winter rains.
Since that pivotal day, Brokate, founder of the Clean River Alliance, has spearheaded the removal of about 750 tons of garbage and abandoned wreckage from the Russian River watershed through trash collection events and special projects.
It’s a worthy legacy to consider — one acknowledged by numerous awards and accolades — as Brokate, 56, outgoing Clean Team program director for the Russian Riverkeeper, prepares to leave Sonoma County and build a new semiretired life in Ecuador.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/russian-river-guardian-chris-brokate-marks-end-of-watch-in-sonoma-county/
Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Chris Brokate did not intend to spark a revolution in watershed management when he hauled a load of trash from the Russian River in his weathered Chevy pick-up in 2014.
The Forestville man simply spotted a need after winter storms flushed debris from the river’s mouth onto the beach near the coastal community of Jenner.
“All of a sudden, we had all this stuff down here and I thought, ‘Who’s going to clean this up? Nobody was going to do it,’” Brokate said.
Four years and roughly a half-million pounds of trash later, Brokate’s Clean River Alliance is hailed as a model for improving watershed health. Brokate, 54, has earned numerous environmental awards for his work, while across California, communities rush to implement similar trash-hauling programs to combat blight and pollution.
The herculean task has come at a personal cost to Brokate, whose body and truck have taken a pounding from the work. As some measure of relief, a Sonoma County grant has allowed him the freedom to step away from his janitorial business and devote himself full time to the clean-up project, while friends have organized a fundraising drive to upgrade his wheels.
“The grassroots movement that Chris Brokate has led to clean up the lower Russian River is historic and without precedent,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, whose district includes that stretch of the river. “We are talking tens of thousands of pounds of trash removed from our watershed.”
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/lifestyle/8947582-181/how-one-mans-quest-for
Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The all-volunteer Clean River Alliance, which has cleared hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash from the Russian River watershed over the past three years, is enlisting help for a monthlong blitz on Santa Rosa Creek.
Each Sunday in March the nonprofit group and associated volunteers plan to tackle a different stretch of the river tributary, where recent flooding has left garbage strewn in the trees and bushes, mixed in the water and scattered along the banks.
The alliance, founded by Forestville resident Chris Brokate and sponsored by the Russian Riverkeeper, is working in conjunction with the city of Santa Rosa to get as much trash as possible out of the watershed before it can become overgrown by summer foliage or be washed downstream by additional rain, spokeswoman Robin Factor said.
High school students can earn community service hours by participating, but all volunteers should keep in mind that conditions are often steep, muddy and slippery, and some lifting is required, Factor said.
The cleanups will run Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. as follows:
March 12, Santa Rosa Creek at Willowside Road. Meet at the bridge.
March 19, Santa Rosa Creek near Stony Point Road. Meet at a Place to Play city park, 2375 W. Third St. in Santa Rosa, near the pond.
March 26, Santa Rosa Creek near Pierson Street, downtown Santa Rosa. Meet at a Place to Play.
Details are available on Facebook (Clean River Alliance) or by calling Robin Factor, Clean River Alliance Santa Rosa, at 707- 293-8050.
Source: Volunteers needed to clean up Santa Rosa Creek | The Press Democrat