Annual event clears trash, protects natural resources

by:  MARK GAMBA - A volunteer climbs on rocks to pick up trash next to the Clackamas River.We Love Clean Rivers organizers are gearing up for the 11th annual Down the River Clean Up on Sept. 8.

The event begins at Barton County Park, “where a flotilla of volunteers will raft, kayak, tube, canoe and scuba down a 15-mile stretch of the Clackamas River, removing any trash it may encounter along the way to preserve and protect the beautiful and bountiful river,” said Andy Wuest, We Love Clean Rivers event coordinator.

Wuest expects 400 volunteers to descend on Barton Park for the event. Pre-registration is required.

“By coordinating with kayakers, rafters, anglers, scuba divers and tubers to clean up waterways, We Love Clean Rivers broadens engagement with river-restoration activities, increases the recreation community’s understanding of threats to watershed health, and provides unique opportunities for the community to give back to the incredible resources we use year-round,” Wuest said.

This is a family-friendly event, and education is key, he said, noting that the morning begins with instruction about safety on the river. All boaters are required to wear personal floatation devices at all times, and American Medical Response will provide guards to sweep the river. The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office dive team also will be present on the river. 

A garbage scow, a type of boat, will accompany the boaters to collect all of the trash that is picked up along the way. Some of what is found will be thrown away, but more than half of it will be recycled.

Other pieces of garbage will be turned into art and exhibited in the annual Ripple Art Show, taking place on Nov. 7 in Portland’s Pearl District, Wuest said.

Environmental impact

by:  MARK GAMBA - A boy sorts through beer cans at last year's Clackamas River clean-up activity.

The Clackamas River provides drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people, including Lake Oswego residents, and is home to old-growth forests, bird species, steelhead and one of the last remaining wild salmon runs in the Lower Columbia Basin, Wuest said.

“Garbage in the river is just bad. Not only should we have a special interest in this river, as it provides many local residents with drinking water, but we are damaging critical habitat for the wildlife that has inhabited these waters long before we settled here,” he said.

“Everyone has seen many pictures of wildlife and their habitat being choked out by rubbish. They are tough pictures to look at, but it is even more disturbing to find a source of this harmful garbage and habitat damage in our very own Clackamas River,” Wuest said.

After checking data collected from the past 10 float-down-the-river events, Wuest provided statistics that put the trash problem in perspective.

“We have already removed 50,580 pounds of garbage to date from our previous 10 efforts. On average, our event removes 5,700 pounds of garbage each year. I wish we could expect to pull out less garbage this year, but anyone who has been on the river this season knows that it is pretty bad this year,” he said. “Last year we removed 2.22 tons of garbage, 58 percent of which was recycled. Of that weight recycled, there was 269 pounds of aluminum, 534 pounds of glass, 101 pounds of plastic bottles, 1,211 pounds of metal and 25 pounds of soggy cardboard.

“If it has been brought on the river, it has likely been found in or around the river at some point.”

Clean sweep

What: We Love Clean Rivers presents the 11th annual Down the River Clean Up

When: 9 a.m. until late afternoon Sept. 8

Where: From Barton Park to Clackamette Park

Details: For full details about the event and to pre-register, visit

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine