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Look for the Helpers: Volunteers clean popular hiking trail

As our area is faced with ongoing changes due to a growing pandemic, we are bringing stories of people doing good in the community during a time of uncertainty.

Help us look for the helpers!

Cleaning the Punch Bowls

A Ventura County woman who took charge to clean up a local trail that was getting trashed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ellie Mora is making a big difference at Santa Paula Canyon.

The hiking area had its issues before COVID-19, but when the pandemic hit, the condition of the trail got worse.

Mora used to run the trail weekly, but she saw on social media how bad it was getting during the shutdown. Graffiti and trash were everywhere.

The forest service shut the trail down in May because it was getting so bad.

Mora, working with the forest service, rallied volunteers and in one day, they filled two dumpsters with trash. A few days later, they went back to cover the graffitti. And since then, Mora and volunteers have worked hundreds of hours cleaning up the mess.

Mora couldn't believe how much junk hikers left behind.

"There was everything. Mostly toilet paper, ice cream containers, stoves... anything you could think of it was back there," Mora said. "We've been cleaning it up and there is still so much work to be done even going out multiple times."

"I'm trying to make it better and teach people that you can't treat it like this or it's going to be taken away."

Mora says social media isn't helping. She recently saw one TikTok video about the Santa Paula Punch Bowls that had 9 million views, glorifying the beauty of the trail and that fact that it's unmonitored.

Mora says she's working with Caltrans to get no-parking signs up along Highway 150, and also getting a kiosk installed at the trail.

Mora says the Santa Paula Canyon trail closure has been extended until September 30, so that gives her more time to get the trail restored.

If you want to help, you can donate to the Los Padres Forest Association.

By the way, Mora's efforts are being noticed. She was recently profiled in Time Magazine.

Know of any other helpers making a difference during these trying times? Send Alys an email and let her know!

Author Profile Photo

Alys Martinez

Alys Martinez is a reporter and anchor at NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Alys, click here.

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