San Jose

South Bay Man Leads Effort That Removes 100 Tons Of Trash From Local Creek

Golf, it turns out, just wasn't going to cut it for Steve Holmes.

The semi-retired San Jose salesman and business owner, tried to fill his post-career free time the way many people do, with time on the links and other leisure pastimes. Still, Steve felt something was missing.

"I wasn't fulfilled," Holmes said.

Fortunately for Holmes, the life-long fisherman stumbled across an online video that intrigued him.

"This gentleman had filmed a Chinook Salmon coming up the Guadalupe (River) during a storm period," Holmes said.

friends of los gatos creek 1
Steve Holmes founded Friends Of Los Gatos Creek two years ago after becoming aware of just how polluted the steam had become.

Steve was surprised to see the fish, one he had often traveled on vacation hundreds of miles to try and catch, right in his backyard.

Steve did a little more research and was also surprised to learn in just what a bad state the waterways of the South Bay were in.

"Our creeks are in horrible condition and if we don't do something we are basically leaving the next generation dead streams," Holmes said


Steve had found something to do in semi-retirement that was completely fulfilling.

Two years ago Steve founded Friends of Los Gatos Creek, a non-profit dedicated to cleaning up decades of "legacy trash" that has accumulated in the creek over the years and, once completed, working with the city of San Jose and other agencies to maintain the creek's health.

friends of los gatos creek 2
Steve has relied on hundreds of volunteers over the past two years to help him remover close to 100 tons of "legacy" trash from Los Gatos Creek and the Guadalupe River.

Since starting the group, Steve has lead hundreds of volunteers on close to 70 clean-ups of different parts of Los Gatos Creek and the Guadalupe River and, in total, removed close to 100 tons of trash from the waterways.

"We've been able to return some of these areas that were completely trashed out to almost trash-free levels, which is amazing," Holmes said.

Much of the legacy trash Steve and his crews work hard to remove is the result of homeless encampments, which had been allowed to flourish for years along the creek's banks. Steve says a renewed push to move people away from the creeks, and keep them away, is reaping benefits for the creeks and, frankly, the homeless as well.

“The benefit of what we’re doing is we’re actually getting our local homeless problem, which is a huge problem, out of the shadows,” Holmes said.

friends of los gatos creek 3
Garvin Thomas
"Legacy trash" is junk that has accumulated over the course of years along the creek, often becoming embedded into the creek bottom. Much of the trash is the result of homeless encampments that have been allowed to flourish for years along the creek.

Steve says the effort along Los Gatos Creek has been so successful, he and his crews are slowly moving on to the Guadalupe River and, eventually, Coyote Creek. He believes in just a few years, they will be done with the the initial "deep clean" of the creeks, and will move on to the maintenance phase of the operation.

If you are interested in getting involved, like the Friends of Los Gatos Creek on Facebook or visit their website.

Contact Us