By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It’s a first-of-its-kind cleanup in a Sacramento creek overrun with homeless debris.

This week, draft horses were working to haul the garbage out of Steelhead Creek.

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Draft horses were following every direction their owner Scott Morello sends them in, pulling massive tires, shopping carts, and overgrown vegetation from the waterway.

“Star is the brains of the operation and Bell is kind of the brawn,” Morello said.

Roland Brady is a geologist who has been working to clean Steelhead Creek for years from all the illegal dumping. He said heavy equipment would not work because of the damage it could do to the creek bed.

Brady put this draft horse pilot program together after spending years trying to keep the creek clean.

“But how do you get it out, how do you inventory it?” Brady said. “In the middle of the night, I woke up and said ‘horses!’ ”

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Brady says the plan has been years in the making, with the Sacramento County Parks Department, Save the American River Association, and the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps.

The Sacramento Regional Sanitation District is paying for the $75,000 job.

The plan appears to be working. Brady says the horses have pulled tires, water-logged blankets, and shopping carts from the creek.

“Of course, the worst of all are the shopping carts because this is the vector that gets all this junk into the creek,” Brady said.

It’s a 21st-century problem and a centuries-old solution. Real horsepower is a cleaner Steelhead Creek.

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The horses will continue this cleanup through Thursday.