The Kern River: Conservationists share how to protect the beauty of the river

A week-long series The Kern River: An Inside Look
Posted at 12:23 PM, Aug 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-03 15:23:28-04

Barbara Hinkey has been coming to the Kern River since she was 5 years old. 23ABC's Jada Montemarano spoke with her along the banks of the river.

As she played with the water, Barbara spoke about keeping it clean.

She started the Keepers of the Kern, an organization that works to protect and preserve the Kern River. 

"This is our land and we all need to take care of it. It was close to being lost to pollution when we first started four years ago. We took out 10 tons. 10 tons of accumulated trash,” said Barbara.

With the help of volunteers, Barbara has picked up garbage, cleaned graffiti, and even removed human waste. 

“This is my river. I have come back to retire, well not retire, I pick up trash. But it is because the river runs through me,” said Barbara.

She is only one of the many people in Kernville who have a special connection to the river. Gary Ananian also called The Kern his home.

“I would always come up here to camp and fish. It's peaceful,” said the conservationist.

Gary, like Barbara, saw the trash problem and wanted to do something about it. Also four years ago, he started the non-profit organization, Kern River Conservancy, which works with the forest service to protect the Kern.

"That’s how much I love this river. That’s why I do what I do because I care about it so much. That’s why I started the Kern River Conservancy. I get people together, so we all work together and we keep this river clean and we preserve it," said Gary.

Preservation is something Barbara thinks is important as well, “It needs to be protected and preserved. It is a beautiful place for families and kids."

On the journey, Jada met these kids who have been visiting the river since they were born. Their families have been camping by the Kern for decades.

One child said, “I like the river because I can collect rocks with gold and diamonds." Just one example of how the river is a place of imagination and adventure, even though lately it has only been seen as a place of danger.

Another child playing said, “You can easily get swept away in the water and drown. My dad is a worry wort about me in the river."

But even with this worry, the sound of children playing and splashing is music to Barabra's ears.  

"To hear those children playing in the water that is the reason you come to the river to enjoy it, to get in it, to smell it, to feel it. Swimming right now is not good, but you can still have fun. You need to love this river but you also have to fear it."

This is part of the week-long “The Kern River: An Inside Look” series.

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