(reprinted from SARA newsletter Winter/Spring 2021)
2020 was the year many Sacramentans and residents of other cities discovered Sutter’s Landing Regional Park. During the summer, new visitors flocked to the beach, double and triple over past years. They came from as far away as the East Bay and Napa and Sonoma counties to escape the wildfire smoke. Like local families, they brought their children to the Landing for its sandy beaches sloping gently into the shallow, slow-moving river. People came to swim and sunbathe, and stand up on paddle boards.
There was a downside to the summer crowds, though. So many new visitors stressed the landscape. Some added to the impact by cutting new paths or trees for illegal fires, letting their dogs run unchecked, or leaving trash on the beach.
In response, members of Friends of Sutter’s Landing (FOSL), Save the American River Association, and neighborhood volunteers decided to lead by example. Beginning on July 3, they turned out with trash pickers and buckets, and handed out litter bags to visitors. It was clear that this would not be a one -time event. There was too much to do.
Sutter’s Landing was so popular it was necessary to walk the parking lot and beach daily to keep them picked up. FOSL also reached out to Sacramento County and Sacramento City Parks for support. Quickly, the City replaced a cluttered group of trash cans with a larger trailer of sufficient capacity.
Sacramento County Rangers assigned a liaison to coordinate with the FOSL team and respond to its 311 app reports in the Parkway. And the City allowed our volunteers to
assist with weeding the raised bed planters, restoration sites, and Park grounds.
To enlist more of the public and to inform, we created a flier listing the non-emergency telephone numbers for the city and county along with their 311 app addresses. Everyone we engaged received a copy and encouragement to get involved by reporting issues and concerns.
There were unexpected benefits as well. Volunteers who tend the same stretch of parkway regularly not only become familiar with it, but they also interact more with other visitors building community. When you actively care for the Parkway, strangers will approach you.
It all worked. Gradually, river goers took more care during their visits. And a hidden cadre of longtime beach lovers quietly continued what they had always done, packing out more than they brought in. What we began in early summer continues. When we show up, others notice and recognize that taking care of our Parkway is a gift we give to each other.
Thanks to the combined efforts of all, Sutter’s Landing is on the mend. It will always need our care and protection. There is restoration to be done, scarred trails to heal, and new trees and shrubs to plant. But, for now, it is a safe and peaceful place to enjoy nature and paddle serenely on the river.
If you would like to volunteer, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about Friends of Sutter’s Landing visit http:// www.sutterslandingpark.org/