Napa’s popular Oxbow area is looking cleaner after a couple dozen volunteers descended on it Thursday morning to pick up trash.
Waterways Keepers, a coalition of local groups that holds various trash cleanup events, had struck again. It advertised the Oxbow event as the first for this particular area, with more to come.
But why meet on a Thursday at 8 a.m., instead of on a weekend when more volunteers might show up?
“Some of the businesses of the Oxbow District requested we host a cleanup for their employees and the community,” said Shari Gardner of Friends of the Napa River. “Most of these businesses are slammed on the weekend, so this is a good day for them.”
David Martin, who works in the human resource department for the nearby Westin Verasa Napa hotel, showed up. He wants the Oxbow Commons park and Napa River area clean.
“It represents our hotel because a lot of our guests use this space as well,” Martin said.
“What better way to give back than taking care of the community you’re living in?”
Rachel Perkovich showed up, having participated in American River cleanups when she lived in Sacramento.
“I thought I would join in the same activity in my new community,” she said.
Or maybe Napa is better described as her old community. She left Napa in 1999 after graduating from high school because she found the city boring. She’s impressed with the Napa of today.
That raises the question of whether she or Napa has changed.
“Napa has changed,” she said with a smile. “Napa has things to do now.”
That change can be seen in the area she had come to clean up. Oxbow Commons, which serves as a park most of the time and a Napa River spillway during flood conditions, didn’t exist in 1999. Neither did Copia and the restaurants that have made the Oxbow a tourist draw.
“None of this was here,” Perkovich said.
Napa resident Tom Gorton heard about the event, so he showed up.
“I’m not working today, so I thought it would be nice to help out, get some sunshine,” he said.
He didn’t need the straw hat he wore at 8 a.m. because grey clouds held back that hoped-for sunshine. But that didn’t dim his smile. And the sun finally burned away the clouds.
The volunteers donned gloves and grabbed metal trash grabbers and plastic buckets. They were hunting what organizers called “microtrash,” given that city cleanup crews take care of the big garbage.
A close inspection of the banks of Oxbow Commons park revealed the microtrash amid the vegetation – napkins, aluminum wrappers and other items that can wash into waterways and pose a hazard for fish and wildlife.
“The small stuff counts,” Gardner said.
Event sponsors included Napa Valley CanDo, Friends of the Napa River, Napa County Resource Conservation District and Napa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District.