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Volunteers clean up Scotts Flat Lake on Labor Day weekend

Volunteers, each with a white bucket in hands, gather for a group photo Monday morning before taking off on a cleanup of Scotts Flat Reservoir in Nevada County. The event is a series of activities organized by Grass Valley resident Jeff Matiska with the goal of keeping community lakes and trails litter-free.
Teresa Yinmeng Liu/tliu@theunion.com |

For some, Labor Day weekend is a chance to relax, hang out with friends and families. For others, the holiday weekend marks an extra day off work. But for a group of nine people, it’s an opportunity to engage in an activity that benefits the community.

“It’s nice to feel like you can make a big impact for more people,” said Georgia Green.

Green is among a group of volunteers who removed cigarette butts, candy wrappers, plastic bottles, socks, straws and other debris deposited along the trails and shorelines of Scotts Flat Lake Monday morning.



The event is the second in a series of cleanups organized by Grass Valley resident Jeff Matiska with the goal of keeping community lakes and trails free of litter. Matiska focuses on five lakes in northern California: South Lake Tahoe, Scotts Flat Reservoir, Lake Chabot in the Bay Area, Lake Oroville in Butte County, and Lake Shasta in Shasta County.

Matiska started recruiting volunteers in June by creating five groups on http://www.meetup.com. By the end of August, Matiska has gathered 80 members, most of them strangers.




Matiska said three volunteers from the South Lake Tahoe area joined him, his wife, and his son, during the first cleanup, which took place Sunday morning at the famous alpine lake in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

“The locals were very happy to see us and everybody was thanking us for doing what we were doing,” he said.

The Monday get-together at Scotts Flat Reservoir drew nine participants, including Matiska and his 16-year-old son, Nikolas, who took part in both the Sunday and Monday cleanups.

“It’s a nice turnout; we can get a lot done with this many people,” Matiska said.

His crew members included 12-year-old Audrey Johnson, who traveled to Nevada County with her aunt, Rebecca Grining, from Gridley, Calif., a city about an hour away from Scotts Flat Lake. The initiative is not an unfamiliar one to Johnson.

“I’ve gone (on cleanups) with my aunt,” Johnson said. “We pick up trash right around where we live.”

Grining said she participated in the event because she wanted to meet like-minded people.

The aunt and niece team were on their way to Nevada City to meet a friend. So finding the event on Meetup “happens to be a bonus,” Grining said.

Georgia Green carried her two-year-old son Stellar on her back as she bent over to pick up a cigarette butt from the side of the road. The Nevada County resident said she wanted to be a part of the cleanup, because her home is a short distance away from Scotts Flat Lake.

“It makes me sad when I see trash on the ground,” Green said. “So I figured, this is a great idea, why not.”

To contact Staff Writer Teresa Yinmeng Liu, please email tliu@theunion.com, or call 530-477-4236.


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