Only three volunteers showed up for Monday’s San Felipe Creek cleanup, but those three picked up several bags of litter in one of the creek’s most heavily utilized areas.
Mayor Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano, Lupita De La Paz, executive director of the Casa De La Cultura; and Nora Padilla, park ranger and interpreter for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, thoroughly cleaned an area between the creek and a parking lot near the Casa De La Cultura.
“We’re trying to make sure the creek is clean and safe for our children, and we’re also trying to educate people about this very important water resource. If we do not clean our San Felipe Creek and start showing pride in this area, it will be polluted and become a waste of this wonderful natural resource,” Padilla said.
Padilla raked up piles of pull tabs from aluminum cans and cigarette butts under a tree that serves as a sort of meeting place for a group of afternoon beer drinkers, and De La Paz splashed into the creek itself to pick up discarded aluminum cans, plastic bags and beer and liquor bottles that had been thrown into its waters.
Lozano has participated in volunteer creek cleanups ever since he moved back to Del Rio a number of years ago.
“The San Felipe Creek is a big part of the lifeblood of Del Rio. It’s got lots of history, and it’s culturally important, and we need to insure that it’s kept clean and that its history is passed on to future generations,” Lozano said.
“For me, being able to participate in cleanups, to actually get in the water and clean it, connects it all. We’ve got to learn to cherish what we have, and we’ve got to keep conserving it, ensuring that these resources are maintained,” he added.
Lozano promised that his administration would do more than pay lip service to those ideals.
The mayor has already met with a number of groups to discuss improvements in local parks.
“My approach is to include everybody. What better resource than to have Texas Parks & Wildlife, the National Park Service, the Casa De La Cultura, the city’s parks department, what better way than to get all these entities under one roof and have a discussion about how to enhance our area with environmental awareness and protection? And to inform the public about what services are available and why it’s important to have a clean creek, clean parks, no glass in the creek, there’s a reason for it,” Lozano said.
“I was doing this long before I put my name on the ballot, long before I won the election, I was out here being a part of these programs, just being a part of the community doing it. As a kid, my cousin Blanca and I would go and jump into the creek and clean up after ourselves, and now we have to set the example so that can be continued by future generations,” the mayor added.