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Team Gearhead Cleans Up San Pedro Creek

Photo one
Daniel Blake, Justin Olsen, Michael Olsen, John Dolan, Anders Chippendale, Liam Miller, and Matt McPhail show off their haul.
Photo two
Michael Olsen carries debris from San Pedro Creek.
Photo 3
North Fork of San Pedro Creek as it is today.
 
STORY AND PHOTOS BY IAN BUTLER
 
San Pedro Creek in Linda Mar drains Pacifica’s most extensive watershed. Clean water runs off the pristine slopes of Montara Mountain, creating ideal steelhead spawning habitat in San Pedro Valley Park on the middle and south forks. Fingerling rainbow trout still swim in the Sanchez fork behind St. Edmund's Church. But the neglected north fork is the creek's abused stepchild.
 
Paved over decades ago to build homes, streets, and schools, this steelhead paradise was reduced to a hidden network of concrete tunnels. The water now passes through miles of these tunnels before finally being exposed to dirt and daylight in the dense thicket behind Park Mall, adjacent to the site of the proposed assisted-living facility.
 
Recently, while Councilmember Mary Ann Nihart was given a tour of the area, a tremendous amount of litter and debris was found clogging the creek where it emerges from the tunnels. Matt McPhail, owner of nearby Gearhead Bicycles, offered to organize a cleanup with a group of kids from Team Gearhead.
 
So on Saturday, January 14, the kids arrived by car, bike, and unicycle, three even decking themselves out in full wetsuits, complete with abalone knives hanging from their belts. They quickly went to work, some scouring the creek for debris, others rigging up a rope system for pulling larger items up the steep bank. A few hours later they had hauled up an impressive collection of junk, including a mattress, two shopping carts, an old car tire, and—ironically—a rusted bicycle. Parents who knows what it’s like to get their kids to clean their rooms would have to be impressed with the effort these kids put into cleaning up a neglected waterway.
 
The north fork’s problems remain, including unnaturally high water flows, erosion, and pollution from paint, oil, detergent, and coliform bacteria, but on this day it was the beneficiary of hard work by an enthusiastic group of kids learning to care for the environment.

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