Modesto Bee: River cleanup benefits Tuolumne River in Modesto


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Elias Ruiz uses his Feather Raft to haul tires out of the river

Published: May 22, 2016
Source: Modesto Bee
Photos by John Westberg

About two dozen volunteers spent several hours Sunday removing 79 abandoned tires, about 20 shopping carts and other trash and debris from the Tuolumne River in Modesto.

This is the first time Operation 9-2-99 has held a cleanup focused solely on the river. The organization’s name refers to the stretch of the Tuolumne from Ninth Street to Highway 99 in the Tuolumne River Regional Park. Previous cleanups over the past two years have focused on the riverbank and surrounding areas.

“It’s amazing how much stuff a few people on the water got off there,” Operation 9-2-99 founder Chris Guptill said. “We plan to do it again over the summer. This was really successful.”

Guptill said the volunteers were in kayaks, canoes and other watercraft as they removed tires, shopping carts, blankets, tarps, sleeping bags, clothing and other trash from the river. He said the volunteers included the Tuolumne River Trust, the Back Country Horseman of America’s Mid Valley Unit, and Capt. Phil McKay with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Guptill said the volunteers cleaned about three-quarters to one mile of the river from Drydren Golf Course to Highway 99. To learn more – including how to volunteer – visit

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Chris Guptill and other volunteers remove tires from the river

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