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Annual river cleanup imminent.

Byline: Edward Russo The Register-Guard

The Great Willamette River Cleanup - an annual fall tradition - is "rapid-ly" approaching.

Volunteers are needed on Saturday to remove trash from the river and riverbanks during the event in Eugene, Springfield and other cities along the river.

Volunteers will work on or near the river at Maurie Jacobs and Alton Baker parks in Eugene; Island Park in Springfield; and at Turtle Flats, off Seavey Loop Road.

The event, held for the last several years, is organized by Willamette Riverkeeper, a Portland-based nonprofit group dedicated to protecting and restoring the river.

Michelle Emmons, the group's Lane County event coordinator, said the cleanup is family-friendly.

"We're inviting everyone to come on down and help us clean up our parks and riverbanks," she said.

The event allows people "to be more aware of how we can tread lightly and keep our parks and river clean for our future enjoyment," Emmons said.

The cleanup occurs in early fall because the river is low and more of the bank is exposed, she said. "People are able to get more garbage."

Longtime river advocate John Brown, a Eugene commercial real estate broker, said homeless campers along the river leave a lot of trash.

"It is vitally important that we clean the riverbanks before the seasonal rains come and the rivers rise," he said. "Each year, we remove literally tons of very harmful debris, including tarps, foam mattresses and sleeping bags, not to mention human waste, hypodermic needles and car batteries. The list is endless."

The cleanup in Eugene-Springfield typically attracts 100 to 200 volunteers.

"Our goal is to have 300 volunteers this year," Emmons said.

Willamette Riverkeeper Executive Director Travis Williams said a total of 800 to 1,000 volunteers are expected to participate in several cities, including Albany, Corvallis, Salem and Portland. "It really is a riverwide cleanup," he said.

Volunteers are urged to register in advance through the Willamette Riverkeeper website. "We would prefer that people register ahead of time, so we can get them a T-shirt," Emmons said.

Volunteers must wear closed-toe shoes. Gloves, trash grabbers and trash bags will be provided.

Volunteers with canoes, kayaks, driftboats and other non-motorized watercraft are welcome.

All boaters are required to wear a life jacket and be at least 18 years old. Boaters must register in advance because of logistics and shuttling.

Willamette Kayak & Canoe Club will lead paddlers with their own boats from Island Park to Alton Baker Park.

Outdoor programs by the University of Oregon and the city of Eugene will provide limited access to watercraft for volunteers without boats. The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife will complete the Lane County on-water stretch of the cleanup from Clearwater Park to the D Street boat ramp in Springfield.

Friends of Buford Park will lead a cleanup and teasel removal restoration project at Turtle Flats, at the confluence of the Coast and Middle forks, off Seavey Loop Road.

Land-based volunteers who will work at Maurie Jacobs, Alton Baker or Island parks should arrive at 9:30 a.m. for check-in and orientation.

Turtle Flats volunteers should meet at 9 a.m. at the former BRING Recycling site off Seavey Loop Road.

A free lunch by Oakway Catering will be provided to volunteers after the cleanup. Beer will be provided by Ninkasi and Oakshire Brewing, with raffle prizes from Upstream Adventures, Caddis Fly, Eugene Skin Divers, GloryBee Foods and others.

Follow Ed on Twitter @edwardrusso. Email ed.russo@registerguard.com.

GREAT WILLAMETTE CLEAN UP

What-when: A free, family-friendly public event on Saturday, uniting cleanup efforts along the river in Eugene, Springfield, Salem, Albany, Corvallis, Portland and other cities

Volunteers: Urged to register in advance at www.willamette-riverkeeper.org
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Title Annotation:Environment; Volunteers are needed to remove trash from the banks of the Willamette
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 29, 2014
Words:616
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