Keepers are Back in the Saddle Again

Photos by Keepers of the Kern
This is trash left from the last two weekends at campsites along the river. The portable toilets were left with trash in them and feces and toilet paper strung on the walls as well as outside the portables.

Barbara Hinkey
Keepers of the Kern

If anyone thought Keepers of the Kern were down and out, think again. They were out in force last Tuesday and Wednesday on the upper Kern River filling their bags with trash, garbage, and other “unsavory debris” left by uncaring visitors.

“We finally received permission and a new volunteer proposal from the U.S. Forest Service to return to what we do best”, said Barbara Hinkey, cofounder of the organization. “Due to Covid19 and the guidelines and restrictions involved, we had to lay low until we got the all-clear.”

Hinkey went on to say that in order to comply with what is required, volunteers must practice social distancing, wear masks/face coverings, gloves, and any other PPE necessary to get the job done safely. All tools, radios, and other equipment must be sanitized before leaving. “It is a bit difficult to get used to all of this, but we all paid attention and got through it all safely and without much concern”, she added.

Until the campgrounds are brought back to a manageable condition, Keepers will be focusing on the river and beach areas in the undeveloped campgrounds. According to Richard Kerr, board member and team leader, “the areas that can’t be seen are in the worse condition with plant destruction, glass bottles, illegal fire pits and way too many toilet areas”.

Keepers will be hosting clean up events every Tuesday and Wednesday, depending on the weather and other conditions that may surface. “We are going to do our best to keep on keeping on with hopes of continuing to help make a difference on our river and other places here in the valley”. Said Hinkey. “This year has brought some big challenges and obstacles, and we feel it is going to be a very demanding and taxing season”, she concluded.

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