After removing 1.5M pounds of trash, Chris Brokate is moving on to his well-deserved semi-retirement in real estate in Ecuador. Though we bet he’ll be taking his garbage picker with him, or maybe enough for 20 volunteers!
“It has been an amazing 6 1/2 years doing this project here on the Russian River and I am so grateful and proud for all those who helped and volunteered to make all this possible,” said Chris, Russian Riverkeeper Clean Team Program Director.
Under Chris’s outstanding and inspiring leadership, the Clean Team has removed 1.5M pounds of trash from Hopland in Mendocino County to the mouth of the river at Jenner-by-the-Sea, on numerous Sonoma County beaches, and on tributary creeks throughout the Santa Rosa plain.
Chris joined Russian Riverkeeper’s team in 2009 as a volunteer and worked on several projects including, you guessed it, trash cleanup. His passion, endless energy, and can-do spirit quickly earned him Volunteer of the Year in 2010. After seeing the devastating effects of trash coming down the Russian River and entering the ocean after winter rains, he began getting together with a small, intrepid group of volunteers to do cleanups. In 2016, Chris Brokate founded Clean River Alliance under the fiscal sponsorship of Russian Riverkeeper, and in 2019, it became a part of Russian Riverkeeper as its Clean Team program.
Carol Shumate will serve as Interim Clean Team Program Director during the search to find a replacement. Carol, affectionately called “trash barrel Carol,” will continue to oversee clean camp outreach to the unsheltered and will coordinate regular cleanups events including the annual Russian River Watershed Cleanup on September 18.
Follow @russianriverkeepercleanteam Instagram and Facebook for local volunteer opportunities and other trash news.
More about Chris
Just last week, Sonoma County District 5 Supervisor Lynda Hopkins presented a Gold Resolution honoring Chris’ work in “founding the Clean River Alliance and so very much more for the River, Coast, and our communities.”
Sonoma County’s Commission on Human Rights passed a resolution on February 23, 2021, giving Chris the honorary title of Community Human Rights Champion for having “selflessly provided care and consideration to the Russian River watershed, including respect and dignity to the Shelterless.
In January 2021, RiverCleanup.org made Chris its River Warrior of the Month.
In November 2020, Chris won the North Bay Spirit Award by The Press Democrat and Comcast.
Chris started a cleaning business in 1990 and has been a green janitor for over 25 years. In 2013, his business was Green Certified by Sonoma County’s Green Business Program and was awarded Green Business of the Year from the Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce.
Check @cleanriveralliance on Instagram and Facebook to see community farewell events through the end of June, and to follow Chris’s real estate and trash cleanup adventures in Ecuador!