Litter, graffiti plague Tulloch

July 30, 2003 11:00 pm
Graffiti by the West Side Riders can be seen in various places along the shores of Tulloch Reservoir. (Amy Alonzo/Copyright 2003, The Union Democrat).
Graffiti by the West Side Riders can be seen in various places along the shores of Tulloch Reservoir. (Amy Alonzo/Copyright 2003, The Union Democrat).

By AMY LINDBLOM

Tulloch Reservoir is changing — but those who use the lake aren't impressed.

Garbage, broken glass, empty cans, coolers and graffiti now mar much of the perimeter of the popular reservoir on the Tuolumne-Calaveras county border near Copperopolis.

Each summer boaters, skiers, wakeboarders, hikers and swimmers head there for cool relief from hot days.

Some take care to keep the lake clean. Others don't.

"It's gotten really bad in the last couple of years," said Tuolumne County Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Johnson. "It's the mentality of those who come in to swim for the day, and they just don't care about what they do while they are here.

"We encourage all users of the waterways to pack out their trash, but we get very little compliance, and it is just getting worse."

Most of the litter and graffiti are found along meandering paths where people like to jump off rocks or swing from the ropes that hang enticingly over the deep, cool water.

As summer progresses and more litter is left than picked up, parts of the shoreline have become a mess.

On a recent cruise around Tulloch, Johnson and boat patrol Deputy Greg Wolf pointed out the many nooks and crannies in the rocks where hikers and swimmers have stashed 12- and 24-packs of beer and coolers.

Bright-colored air mattresses hang from trees, discarded after they've been punctured. On the north shore, there is an abandoned bed mattress, and further up the lake toward New Melones Dam is a floating water heater covered with algae. A short distance away, three large and expensive homes are under construction.

As for the graffiti on shoreline rocks, Johnson said some indicates the Norteos gang from Riverbank has been to the lake to make its mark — RBK XIV. Another group, the West Side Riders, wakeboard enthusiasts from the Central Valley and Sacramento Delta area, spray painted a W$R symbol in red, white and blue paint on a flat rock, Johnson pointed out. The symbol is the same one seen on the backs of pickups seen at Tulloch, he said.