Text by Marty Hornick. Photos by Fran Hunt and Marty Hornick
Watching bag after bag of trash being tossed into that large dumpster, it was clear that the day was turning out to be a great success. And the obvious happiness and spirit of unity—even with masks covering everyone’s huge smiles—made it all even better. This was our first organized in-person event since COVID-19 hit us all over a year ago, and you could see how happy people were to be together this Earth Day, making things just a little bit nicer in our community.
For sixty or so local volunteers, Earth Day began by drinking coffee and snacking on baked goods with friends in the public parking area behind City Hall, or meeting at the park in Chalfant, before heading out for a community cleanup. After a brief safety and logistics discussion, folks grabbed their gloves, bags, pickers and partners and fanned out to gather trash that has been thrown or blown all over our area.
One group cleaned up along Highway 6 near Laws and the Owens River, while others went out to the river along Poleta Road. A group from Chalfant Valley cleaned up a stretch of Highway 6 that has been adopted in memory of our dear friend Carne Lowgren. Still others could be seen just wandering through town, filling bags as they went… as if it were an “Earth Day egg hunt.” A spirited contingent of students from Bishop Union High School also pitched in, helping to get those last bags thrown into the dumpster while City Council member and leader of Sierra Trash Eliminators, Jim Ellis, packed it all down.
When everyone reunited in Bishop after scouring littered areas, that dumpster was overflowing with well over a ton of trash! Additionally, at least a dozen bags of refuse were left on Highway 6 for pick up by Caltrans. Over a hundred pounds of recyclables was also collected.
The event ended with an amazing lunch provided by The Rolling Chef at a discounted price, thanks to the generosity of the Bishop Sunrise Rotary Club. Many lucky participants took home raffle prizes of Black Sheep Coffee beans, LED lights, INYO350 T-shirts, or gift cards for some locally roasted coffee.
Many groups and businesses deserve our thanks for contributing to the success of the Earth Day community cleanup. Black Sheep Coffee Roasters provided the morning coffee. Great Basin Bakery donated baked goods for breakfast. The Rolling Chef brought their kitchen and delicious food to our site for lunch. Bishop Sunrise Rotary donated funds to provide discounted Rolling Chef lunches. Waste Connections (Bishop Waste/ Mammoth Disposal) provided the dumpster and disposed of the haul. And several other great groups coordinated and organized the event with INYO350, including the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association, Friends of the Inyo, Eastern Sierra Land Trust, Sierra Club Range of Light Group, and Sierra Trash Eliminators.
It feels great to work with so many great groups and—most importantly—with all of you who participated on Saturday to make a big difference in our communities! Thanks to all!
If you missed out on this event, stay tuned! INYO350 and 350 MONO have coordinated to adopt a section of Highway 395 halfway up Sherwin Grade. We will be announcing our first big Adopt-A-Highway cleanup event soon. We hope you’ll join us!