A collaborative region-wide watershed cleanup effort.

September 23, 2023

15+ partner organizations. 20+ cleanup sites to choose from. Join in the action to help save our watershed!

About the Great Sierra River Cleanup

Join Sierra Nevada Alliance and our host sites throughout the Sierra Nevada for the Great Sierra River Cleanup (GSRC) on Saturday, September 23, 2023.

GSRC is a Sierra-wide watershed cleanup event coordinated by Sierra Nevada Alliance in collaboration with California’s Coastal Cleanup Day.

Last year, 249 volunteers removed 5,711 pieces of trash from 98 miles of Sierra Nevada waterways. We’re looking to expand our efforts to make an even greater impact.

You can be part of the solution and volunteer to help remove litter and plastic pollution from our beloved Sierra Nevada watershed.

The Great Sierra River Cleanup (GSRC) is one of many California Coastal Cleanup Day events. Previously hosted by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the Sierra Nevada Alliance is very excited to take the reigns as the GSRC coordinator, and to continue the statewide effort to reduce plastic pollution and litter in and around our Sierra waterways.

Can’t make it this year? You can still show your dedication to pollution-free watersheds through a donation to support event costs.

History of Coastal Cleanup Day

The idea for a statewide cleanup was started by Oregon resident Judy Neilson in 1984. Judy organized the “Plague of Plastics” event in October of that year due to rising concerns over the amount of plastic debris along the coast. In 1985, California emulated those efforts and created the California Coastal Cleanup Day, led by the Coastal Cleanup Commission.

In 1993, California Coastal Cleanup Day was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “largest garbage collection” ever organized, with 50,405 volunteers. Since then, the reach of Coastal Cleanup Day has spread inland, as most of the marine debris that we find on our beaches actually starts as urban trash or street litter.

For more information on California Coastal Cleanup Day, visit the Coastal Cleanup Commission’s page.

About the Sierra Nevada and the Alliance

The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range that lies primarily in the state of California with the Carson Range spur expanding into Nevada. The Sierra runs 400 miles north to south, and 50 to 80 miles east to west. The Sierra houses General Sherman, the world’s largest tree by volume; Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America; and Mount Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 United States.

The Sierra is rich in natural resources. It produces 60% of California’s water supply and supplies the state with 50% of its hydroelectric energy. Wildlife is abundant with 3500 plant, 572 animal, and 321 aquatic species. This is a big weight to bear, all while hosting 788,000 residents and 50 million annual visitors.

This region is at risk, and the Alliance is leading the way to build resiliency in the face of climate change and explosive wildfire.

Our Mission: We unite people and organizations to protect Sierra Nevada ecosystems and communities.

Our Vision: Every Sierra ecosystem and community is healthy, resilient, and collectively cared for through thriving partnerships as a legacy for future generations.

Your continued support allows us to protect this precious area.

Join Sierra Nevada Alliance and the Sierra Club – Mother Lode Chapter at Pope Beach

Please join us at Pope Beach in South Lake Tahoe from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. for our official co-sponsored location of GSRC. This year’s event in South Lake Tahoe is coordinated with the Mother Lode Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Our generous sponsor Stio will be on site providing refreshments and a raffle! All participants will receive a raffle ticket upon arrival.

All participants are required to sign a waiver. Please register here.

Find A Cleanup Site

If you live near Lake Tahoe, we hope to see you at our official SNA/Sierra Club sponsored site at Pope Beach! Otherwise, use the map and informational directory below to find a site near you. Some organizations may require pre-registration so we recommend contacting them in advance.

Cleanup Host Sites & Locations

Alpine Watershed Group: Turtle Rock Park, Markleeville, CA

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Kappa Omega Omega Chapter: The Parks at Riverwalk, Bakersfield, CA

American River Conservancy: Henningsen-Lotus Park, Lotus, CA; Marshall Gold Discovery Park, Coloma, CA; Hangtown Creek, Placerville, CA; Happy Valley; Chili Bar Put In, Placerville, CA

California State Parks: Millerton Lake State Recreation Area, Friant Cove Day-Use, Friant, CA

East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD): Camanche Reservoir, Valley Springs, CA; Mokelumne River Day Use Area, Clements, CA; Middle Bar, CA

Eastern Sierra Land Trust: Artesians, Bishop, CA

Friends of Auburn Ravine: McBean Park, Lincoln, CA

Foothill Conservancy: Vaught’s Beach, Jackson, CA

IVGID Waste NotEast Shore South to Rt. 50, Incline Village, NV

Keep Tahoe Blue: Zephyr Cove, Stateline, NV; Diamond Peak Ski Area, Incline Village, NV

Mammoth Lakes Recreation: Horseshoe Lake, Mammoth Lakes Basin

Placer Land Trust: Clementine Beach Preserve, Upper Lake Clementine Rd, Auburn, CA

Plumas Corp: Middle Fork Feather River

San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust: Fresno River West, Fresno, CA

Sierra Nevada Alliance/Tahoe Area Sierra Club: Pope Beach, South Lake Tahoe, CA

South Yuba River Citizens League: Various sites throughout Nevada County, CA

Town of Mammoth Lakes: Mammoth Lakes Trail System – Horseshoe Lake Trailhead, Lakes Basin, Mammoth Lakes, CA

Tuolumne River Trust: North Fork Tuolumne Riverside Day Use Area, Tuolumne, CA

US Army Corps of Engineers Terminus Dam – Lake Kaweah: Horse Creek Campground, Three Rivers, CA

Upper Merced River Watershed Council: Merced River Canyon along Highway 140, Briceburg, CA

Site Captain Resources

Host a cleanup

Supply orders will occur online this year for participating organizations. Here is the link to the storefront

Coordinator and Host Site Captains Manual

Coastal Cleanup Commission’s Site Captain Guide

Marketing Toolkit


Links to both English and Spanish digital waiver forms for cleanup participants to sign:

English version

Spanish version


  • September 23 (9 am – 12 pm): Cleanup Day
    • Greet volunteers, safety talk, host cleanup.
    • Volunteers use the Volunteer Data Forms to track the litter they pick up.
    • Take photos.
      • We’re looking for smiles, people working, people having fun, families and friends together, unique trash, lots of trash, pictures of the water, etc. Before and after photos are great! 
      • The liability waiver includes a photo release, so be sure that all participants have signed this form so that you can use their images for publicity purposes. 
      • If possible, title the photos so that they can be easily identified with the date of the cleanup, name of the group, and photographer’s name
  • September 23 (12 – 2 pm): Cleanup Day
    • Site captains collect Volunteer Data Forms.
    • Compile all Volunteer Data Forms on one Site Captain Summary Sheet.
    • Email the Site Captain Summary Sheet to greatsierrarivercleanup@sierranevadaalliance.org by 1 pm – no later.
      • If you are not able to email, try texting a photo of the Summary Sheet to (775) 971-8018.
    • Select 5-10 of the best photos from your event and drop them in the Google folder with your group’s name on it.
      • We’re looking for smiles, people working, people having fun, families and friends together, unique trash, lots of trash, pictures of the water, etc. Before and after photos are great! 
      • If possible, title the photos so that they can be easily identified with the date of the cleanup, name of the group, and photographer’s name.
    • SNA completes GSRC Coordinator Summary Sheet and returns to CCC by 2 pm.
    • Celebrate with your staff and volunteers!
  • By October 15 (More information to come)
  • By October 31
    • Thank your volunteers, sponsors, etc.
    • Assess surplus supplies.
    • Complete SNA’s event evaluation online (instructions will be emailed to you).

Contact Us

Contact us if you have questions about the event or to learn more about the Great Sierra River Cleanup at natasha@sierranevadaalliance.org.

Event Sponsors

Thank you to our generous Great Sierra River Cleanup sponsors dedicated to addressing the challenges facing the Sierra Nevada. Givers like you make it all possible.

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