A Park Steward

Clyde Crosswhite checking the rocks at water’s edge for litter and noxious weeds
Crosswhite with the Russian pickleweed

I saw him stepping carefully on the rocks at the water’s edge, head down, a plastic bucket in a gloved hand.  What in the world?  Was he looking for mussels?  They’re in quarantine.

On the paved path above him, I followed for a few yards, watching him.  Then I saw.  He bent down and picked up a piece of litter, put it in his bucket.  “You’re a good man,” I said, approaching, and we began to chat.

He is Clyde Crosswhite, a longtime Berkeley resident.  He comes to the park only occasionally.  He works mostly in the hillside parks, and also belongs to the Friends of Five Creeks organization, whose members have done wonderful work cleaning up around the Schoolhouse Creek outfall, among other locations.  In his bucket he had several handfuls of mono-filament fishing line picked up along the Cesar Chavez shoreline.  He said that a worker at a wounded bird refuge told him that if mono-filament fishing line were abolished, most wounded bird care places could shut down.

Also in Crosswhite’s bucket, alongside plastic and paper litter: a sprig of a pickleweed he found growing in a crack in the rocks at the water line.  This is a Russian native, he said, and is related to the invasive tumbleweeds of the arid West.

Crosswhite took a hand in removing the invasive Scotch broom plants along the north side of the park two years ago.  I thought Park management did that, but Crosswhite said he did it himself.  More recently he also took out a budding stand of the same plant on the eastern slope a bit north of the flare station.

I’ve seen several other park visitors pick up litter, and my wife and I regularly do the same.  A piece of litter in the park is like a broken window in a neighborhood (see broken window theory). Litter brings more litter. Good park stewardship entails picking up that litter whenever we can.  Clyde Crosswhite, with his gloves and bucket, and his skill at navigating the rocks at the water’s edge, exemplifies that stewardship to a high degree.


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