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Home : News : News
NEWS | Feb. 17, 2024

Basura Bash a success despite chilly conditions

By Steve Elliott 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Even with temperatures in the low 40s with strong winds pushing that feeling much lower, more than 150 volunteers turned out at the Salado Creek Park at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston early on Feb. 17 to help clean the creek banks.

The Basura Bash is a one-day all-volunteer-run event where people all around San Antonio participate in removing accumulated trash and debris from the San Antonio Watershed’s streams and tributaries.

The cleanup is part of a citywide effort at 25 locations to collect tons of trash from the creek beds and tributaries that flow into the San Antonio River. It is the largest one-day river clean-up in Texas. In recent years, JBSA volunteers have removed more than 20 tons of waste from Salado Creek.

A steady flow of volunteers came and went from the park area throughout the morning, each looking to be a part of something bigger than themselves and make a difference in the appearance of the creek and park areas. Entire families made a morning of the event.

“We need to preserve nature, or we are going to completely waste it,” said Darcy Denny, a volunteer who came with her husband, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jerred Denny, an instructor at the Medical Education and Training Campus, and their two daughters. “It’s important for the community to come together for an event like this. We love this park.”

“The girls were excited to come down and help out,” PO2 Denny said. “We come down here a lot and I was really happy to have my girls come out and be a part of this. It’s great to see people coming out early on a Saturday morning to help out.”

Beyond conserving the waterways’ natural resources and protecting their flora and fauna, the Basura Bash serves to educate volunteers and the general public on proper waste disposal, ways to reduce trash and recycling.

“We’re always looking for ways to help the community,” said retired Air Force Col. Greg Schechtman, with the Randolph Secondary School Air Force Junior ROTC program. Approximately 30 AFJROTC cadets came out in support of the cleanup effort.

“They are totally into it and having a great time,” Schechtman said. “This is the first time we have taken part in the Basura Bash, but it certainly won’t be the last. The kids enjoy doing something that has a visible and immediate impact on the community.”

The effects of storm water runoff are one reason the Basura Bash creek clean-up is necessary. Storm water runoff occurs when precipitation comes down faster than our soils can soak it up and this rain flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks and streets prevent stormwater runoff from naturally soaking into the ground.

Storm water can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, waste from pets and other pollutants before it flows into a storm sewer system or directly to a lake, stream, river, wetland or coastal waterway. Polluted storm water runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals and people.

Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grow. Sediments also fill up the storage capacity of our reservoirs and can destroy aquatic habitats.

Kayaks and canoes were made available for the event, thanks to the MWR Outdoor Recreation staff, for those adventurous volunteers who wanted to clean up from the source on the creek itself. Gloves, bags and other equipment were also provided.

Since its inception in 1995, Basura Bash helpers have removed items as small as cigarette butts and as large as a Ford pick-up truck from the river. This year’s find included numerous tires, a roller skate, an animal trap and many other large items.