Monthly cleanups leave stream sparkling
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer
A yearlong effort by a handful of volunteers has transformed historic Anahulu Stream, which flows to Hale'iwa Boat Harbor, from a trash dump into a picturesque waterway.
Before the cleanups, the stream's banks were covered with trash, said Heidi Burgoyne, who organizes the effort. Plastic bags and tarps were wrapped around tree limbs and hundreds of yards of black plastic irrigation tubing lay tangled like massive spiderwebs along the shores.
"That's the biggest concern, seeing all this plastic waste go from our land straight into the ocean," Burgoyne said. "Especially the plastic tubing; we've pulled out thousands of yards of plastic tubing that's used for irrigation."
The stream, with its historic sites — Queen Lili'uokalani had a summer home there and Kamehameha readied his army near the river mouth to conquer Kaua'i — is a playground for residents and visitors who kayak, canoe and standup paddle through its calm waters, she said.
Burgoyne, who teaches standup paddling on the stream, said she decided to clean it first as a family project with her children and husband and then sought community support.
Once a month, about six or seven people on paddleboards and kayaks scour the stream banks and load their craft with debris.
Other volunteers walk the beaches at the stream mouth to collect trash.
The monthly event is sponsored by Burgoyne's standup paddleboard business, Rainbow Watersports Adventures, which provides supplies, food and hauling service.
"We're a small number but we've made a big difference," she said.
This month the group marks it first anniversary and is inviting others to join the cleanup on June 26.
Corey Shaffer, a volunteer, said the amount of trash in the stream was shocking.
"There's a couple spots where you can tell that trash is coming from the residents who live there," Shaffer said. "That's always upsetting."
But cleaning the stream is part of enjoying it and he and his wife have a history of volunteering to clean streams and watersheds when they lived in Oregon, he said. "It's always been something we cared about."
Automotive parts are a big part of the junk removed from the stream, said Burgoyne. An auto transmission, a drive train and batteries are among the debris found. One resident had stored batteries on the banks and when a big storm hit, they were washed into the water, she said.
"We retrieved nine car batteries out of the river," Burgoyne said, adding that the oddest thing collected may have been a pay phone.
"There was no money. We checked."
Carol Philips, who lives along the stream, said the group's work should be commended because now the stream is "spotless."
By sponsoring the cleanups, Rainbow Watersports is giving back to the community, Philips said.
"I think that any company that uses the natural resources should take responsibility to clean the beaches and the areas that they use," she said. "I think it's very responsible of them."
The yearlong effort has improved the stream to the point where Burgoyne said they may switch to cleaning every other month or try to find another site to clean.