Volunteers get down and dirty for monthly Riverwalk cleanup

Barbara Harm, 65, crouched above a small patch of weeds along the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk Saturday morning. She didn’t need the weed uprooter — her hands were enough. She smiled as she tossed dirt, clumped around weeds, into a bag.

“I find it very relaxing,” said Harm, a Montrose resident.

Harm joined four volunteers Saturday for the monthly day of uprooting weeds along the half-mile stretch of the river walk.

Every month, as many as a dozen volunteers converge on the river walk to tackle growing tree tobacco, fountain grass and other weeds. The volunteer program has been essential to the park’s upkeep since budget cuts disbanded the city park’s naturalists program in June 2011.

John Pearson, who coordinates the monthly cleanups, attributed the small showing to high temperatures. Still, he said Glendale is known for its sense of community when it comes to volunteering.

“For me, I have a lot of time and emotion invested in this place,” said Pearson, a retired city employee who served as the project manager for the river walk.

As Pearson led the way, he paused to show the four volunteers how to dig into the dirt and uproot weeds like a puncture vine.

Roberta Medford, of Montrose, didn’t need the instructions. She’s attended the volunteer cleanup before. The retired UCLA librarian splits her time between cleaning the river walk and Deukmejian Wilderness Park. She rested her knees on a kickboard and thrust her weed eater into the dirt, twisting out leafy weeds.

“It’s labor intensive, but I grew up on a farm. Working in the soil is a pleasure to me,” Medford said.

And Harm feels the same way. The self-proclaimed naturalist said she wanted an activity to do after returning home this spring from Thailand with the Peace Corps.

“People should give back to the community in one way that’s comfortable to them,” Harm said. “I wanted to do something locally.”

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