By Hailey Wilson
SAN FRANCISCO — They came with gloves. They came with shovels. They came with wheelbarrows.
PG&E employees wearing blue volunteer T-shirts assembled to take on the garbage, debris and weeds of 11 state parks throughout central and northern California state parks. With the guidance of park rangers, more than 300 employees garbed in blue celebrated Earth Day on Saturday (April 22) by giving the parks a little TLC.
“Volunteering at PG&E is something I really appreciate,” said Nalini Webster, who works in San Ramon and volunteered with her children at Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay. “It makes you feel good. This is our 13th year volunteering for the PG&E earth day event. I wanted to teach my kids that they have to care about the environment and to give back.”
The storms this winter were especially hard on California’s state parks by blowing down hundreds of trees and covering up trails. Volunteers were able to help mitigate a lot of that damage on Earth Day.
The Webster family worked alongside other volunteers to paint a visitor’s kiosk which had had most of its paint chipped away. Volunteers also chipped wood from fallen trees, pressure washed a dock, and pruned back bushes so visitors could read trail signs.
At Fresno’s Millerton Lake State Recreation Area, employees planted trees for the three shooting victims in downtown Fresno last week. Among those killed was PG&E’s Zackary Randalls, a new employee participating in a ride-along at the time.
“Everybody just jumped on board and said, ‘That’s a great idea to remember these three fine men,’” PG&E’s Ann Kloose told KSEE-TV.
Moments of silence were held at the cleanup locations throughout the PG&E service area. It was something positive following a difficult week for employees.
In Half Moon Bay, volunteers weeded invasive plants and built sturdy planter boxes to withstand time and weather.
“I am inspired and happy to dedicate these hours to nature. We have to protect our beautiful coast for the next generations,” said San Francisco cybersecurity services manager Eric Vo, who volunteered at Half Moon Bay.
Meanwhile, volunteers helped clean up the historic Fox Theater in downtown Bakersfield. Wearing gloves, they helped tackle the sticky issue of gum on floors and seats.
Throughout the day, volunteers planted trees, painted buildings, weeded, restored trails, built benches throughout the service area, and left a trail of goodwill wherever they went.
“I am deeply moved to see people from across California working together to restore our treasured parks that are near and dear to us all,” said Susan Smartt, interim executive director of the California State Parks Foundation.
“The outpouring of support during this annual celebration makes a difference everyone can feel great about when they visit their favorite state park,” she said.
PG&E has sponsored the California State Parks Foundation Earth Day cleanup event for 16 years. As part of the cleanups, PG&E provided a $200,000 grant to the state park organization for the supplies and materials to complete the projects.
Supporting local communities and preserving the environment is core to PG&E’s values. Last year, about 4,800 employees, family members, and friends volunteered nearly 97,000 hours in PG&E’s service area. Together, they cleaned shorelines, planted native trees, helped to build homes and served meals to those in need.
“It take volunteers to come out to re-engage these environments so others can enjoy it,” said Jess Brown, director of PG&E’s San Francisco division.
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.