Tag Archives: Urban Wildlife Sacramento

McKinley Pond Renovation Update

East Sacramento Preservation Board Member Judy McClaver recieved the Good Neighbor Award from Nextdoor.com and was featured in their blog post (below).

Although tickled by the award Judy is currently right in the thick of the pond renovation. “The geese have finally left and about 66% of the ducks. There are some still hanging around. I have put water out for them on the east side of the pond outside of the fence. People can help them by replenishing the water. There is a plastic bag in the watering area with two liter plastic bottles to refill from the drinking fountain,” she said.

She continues to advocate for the safety of the waterfowl and turtles with the pond projects started, but there are still turtles that need rescuing. McClaver worked out a plan with Sacramento City Parks that the donated plants in the pond’s planters can be saved and replanted in the pond when the project is done. The duck ramp is to be reinstalled for ducklings.

McClaver stresses that the job is far from done. “Piles of debris on the island from contractor’s trimming need to be removed and the waterfowl feeding signs need to be put in the pond where people will see them (line of sight) not above people’s heads,” she said.

Good Neighbor Awards

Sacramento’s “First Lady of Waterfowl” Awarded Good Neighbor Award

Judy working from a boat to clean trash and debris out of McKinley Pond.

Written by Danielle Styskal

Each month, Nextdoor is honoring the good neighbors who are making a difference in their neighborhoods every day with our Good Neighbor Award. Each winner is nominated by their neighbors and will receive a gift card from Nextdoor in recognition of the positive impact they have made in their community.

To nominate a good neighbor in your community, click here.

According to several of her neighbors, every city should be so lucky as to have their own “First Lady of Waterfowl,” as Judy McClaver is fondly referred to in Sacramento.

Sacramento’s Good Neighbor Award winner, Judy McClaver.

Sacramento’s Good Neighbor Award winner, Judy McClaver.

Since late 2012, Judy has been fervently volunteering her time to improve the local pond and its surroundings in Sacramento’s McKinley Park. Judy first noticed that the pond was becoming contaminated and dangerous, and turned to the local City Council to have the water tested.

She now walks the park each day to clean up fallen tree branches that park patrons sometimes throw into the pond, causing injury to the pond’s wildlife. She removedbamboo from the pond’s island that was killing the waterfowl and attracting rats – and was ultimately causing odor and adding leaf debris to the pond. Then, she put in new plants.

Judy working from a boat to clean trash and debris out of McKinley Pond.

Judy working from a boat to clean trash and debris out of McKinley Pond.

Uneducated park visitors often feed the waterfowl, causing malnutrition and deformities, so Judy worked with the local Parks Department to implement and post a waterfowl feeding policy that educates others on why bread and human food is harmful.

Judy educating visitors to the pond about ducks and geese and proper feeding to avoid malnutrition and wing and beak deformities.

Judy educating visitors to the pond about ducks and geese and proper feeding to avoid malnutrition and wing and beak deformities.

And, when a family of wild ducks from the pond ends up in a storm drain or backyard swimming pool, Judy is the first person her neighbors turn to for help – she’s an expert in trapping and relocating the waterfowl to a new, safe habitat.

Judy’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by her grateful neighbors. According to one, “She volunteers to help clean up our local park, assists in wildlife rescue, and is an all-around great neighbor to have. We’re so lucky to have her living here.”

Says another, “Judy is a treasure.”

Judy is willing to do the work to maintain the beauty of a prized local park – all out of the goodness of her heart. Congratulations on being named Sacramento’s Nextdoor Good Neighbor Award Winner!

Do you have a story about how you have used Nextdoor in your neighborhood? Let us know.


Posted in Animal Welfare, McKinley Park, McKinley Park Pond | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on McKinley Pond Renovation Update

Neighbors Came Together to Save the Pond—Now You Can Help Determine Its Future

Volunteers Claudia, Jeremy, Annette and Alice

Volunteers Claudia Kirkpatrick, Jeremy Roberts, Annette Anderson and Alice Tomkins on the island

Come to the Pond Meeting with City Council Member Harris this Monday, October 19th at 6pm in the Clunie Center to help determine McKinley Park Pond’s future.

The McKinley Park Pond, an idyllic spot for many of us who grew up in East Sacramento, now struggles to survive. Neglect, pollution, and maltreatment of wildlife have colluded to worsen its chances. Some people noted the decay, or noted the ducks with crooked wings, saw and smelled the sludge-like water, but didn’t see it for what it was: a local landmark choking to death.

Then Judy McClaver stepped in. An R.N., McClaver knew the ducks’ wing deformity was caused by malnourishment. She began to lobby the City to halt the pond deterioration. Here she came up against another problem: bureaucratic passivity and funding problems. Not one to linger while officials dithered, she got to work on her own.

She educated her neighborhood association, East Sacramento Preservation, and went daily to the pond to assess its needs, remove debris, to do what she could. She used a boat to get to the island in the pond, an island tangled with overgrowth and bamboo. The entire pond environment was dying, choked by pollution, neglect, mistreatment. The more she saw and learned, the more urgent the mission became. It was as if she had taken to heart Emerson’s words—“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”

Once she raised awareness, others came. Since last May she’s had a team of citizens who help patrol and administer first-aid to the pond and the untended island in its midst. Every other Monday Claudia Kirkpatrick arrived to help with pruning, weeding, watering, digging, planting.

Kendra ready for another load

Kendra Asbury ready for another load

The bamboo had to be removed, a daunting project for a hot summer. Jeremy Roberts came out two to three times a week in August. “He definitely helped move the project along faster,” McClaver says. “He used a mattock to dig out the bamboo below the surface to about a foot down to remove the rhizomes. It was hot, dirty, hard work.” Joe Mangello, Dave Edwards and Joanne Edwards volunteered for this a day in May.

Thanks to East Sac Hardware, the mattock was kept good and sharp.

Greg Lim helped with irrigation and volunteered to remain on board to help again when McClaver determines the best method. Lim also serves on the City Pond committee with McClaver.

Alice Tomkins, Linda Brown, Annette Anderson, Kendra Asbury, Mary LaCalle, Margie Kirk, Liz Rizzo and daughter Elizabeth all helped gather bamboo debris and piles of roots from the island to the boat, rowed it across the pond to a trash trailer, loaded it into the trailer and rowed back to the island for the next haul. “Each day a trailer was completely filled,” says McClaver. This strenuous work was done in the hardcore heat of Sacramento Summer.

Volunteer projects can be fun and rewarding when you’re decorating for the fall festival or stringing up Christmas lights on a brisk morning. But schlepping bamboo and garbage while baking under our relentless summer sun is something else again. Judy McClaver and her team of volunteers soldiered on through the heat and filth to help restore health to a living landmark. Park picnickers and playground users may not fully appreciate what these workers do, or why. Officials may feel pressured by them. Most people ignore them. But we know who they are and what they do. We are profoundly grateful to Judy McClaver and her team, and we thank them.

Judy and volunteers will be at the meeting. East Sacramento Preservation also requested that City Fire and Police representatives attend to help the community understand the safety risks. Come and participate.


Posted in Animal Welfare, McKinley Park, McKinley Park Pond, Preservation District | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Neighbors Came Together to Save the Pond—Now You Can Help Determine Its Future