Riding home from the grocery store on my bike this morning I decided to take the long route around the lake for a little exercise. As I was rolling along Lakeshore I saw a bunch of kids (they looked like they were 5th graders) with nets pulling garbage out of the lake. I saw a different group of kids doing the same thing last week. These kids said they were on a field trip, and as I continued my ride I saw other small groups of kids with nets on the other side of the lake. A few weeks ago when I was walking I saw a couple of adults with garbage bags cleaning the shoreline along 12th Street across from the Oakland Auditorium.
All this cleaning got me curious. A quick Google search provided some answers. There’s a non-profit organization which is devoted to the cleaning and preservation of Lake Merritt. The Lake Merritt Institute has a contract with the City of Oakland to clean the lake. The organization relies on volunteers and if you’re interested in lending a hand you can stop by and grab a net and gloves near the sailboat house on Bellevue in Lakeside Park. If you prefer to work as part of a larger team, Hands On Bay Area organizes monthly clean up/habitat restoration projects. You can sign up to participate at the Hands On website.
I checked the schedule for the Hands On project and they are already at capacity for volunteers for their February and March dates, so it looks like you need to sign up early to get in on the fun. I have to say that the kids I talked to this morning seemed like they were having a great time. I think it’s fantastic that local citizens are taking direct responsibility for keeping the lake clean.