The Great Willamette River Clean-Up of 2011

12 10 2011

Mike Penwell shows off his catch.

It’s unanimous—Mike Penwell, Willamette River Clean-up volunteer and City of Eugene Facilities Design and Construction Manager, snagged the biggest catch this weekend at the third annual Great Willamette Clean-Up. It was a bottom-feeder, endemic to the Willamette River.  And it was THIS big—that’s close to the length of his kayak, for those of you who can’t see me.

Mike unceremoniously pulled the 5-foot stuffed fish from its recent habitat on the bottom of the river and paddled it downstream, where Mary Tyson  (of Petersen Barn) pulled the soggy fish onto our raft. She nestled it on top of typical river trash fare—cans, bottles, rusted metal and clothing—and next to some of our more interesting junk—a plastic buoy anchored with a boot and a strange long piece of rubber with tentacles coming off of it. 

Flaxen Conway and other kayakers were very effective at getting into hard to reach places.

Our boat contained a fraction of the estimated two tons of trash pulled from the river on Sunday, October 9th by boaters. Volunteers cased the shores as well, picking up trash farther up on the banks, with HIV alliance on hand to take care of any needles. Eugene Master Recyclers and Pacific Recycling and Sanipac were also available to help keep any items that could be recycled out of the landfills. 

Put on by Willamette  Riverkeeper, this weekend’s clean-up was part of a 187-mile regional effort stretching through the entire Willamette Valley, from Eugene to Portland.

River House staff pull trash out of the river.

The River House joined forces with REI, Teva, UO Outdoor Program, Willamalane   HIV Alliance,  Eugene Parks & Open Space Volunteer Program, and many more organizations  to get people cleaning up the river by foot, bike, or by boat at three locations in Eugene and Springfield on Sunday, with the rest of the valley’s clean-up happening on Saturday.  

Clean-up of the Willamette River is an ongoing project—despite  the hard work of volunteers, there was still trash we couldn’t get, not to mention the pollutants that you can’t see, such as municipal,  industrial,  and agricultural pollution, along with emerging contaminants like pharmaceuticals and flame retardants and mercury, according to the Willamette River keeper website. If we all do our part year-round to minimize the pollution and trash we create along with picking up the trash we see, the Willamette will continue on its 10-year past trajectory of becoming a cleaner river. Hopefully, the only fish we find in the river will be alive, thriving, and far less soggy.
Check out this clip from KEZI, including footage from an interview with the River House’s Robb Maris: 
Written by Wendy Maris, AIC Recreation Program Assistant at the River House.

Salmon Stroich collects trash along the Willamette River.


The River House Crew!




4 responses

20 10 2011

This blog has excelled so darn well since I left! If you look at the monthly viewership, it shows a considerable upward trend! Keep up the good work, it’s paying off!!!

21 10 2011

Thanks Andrew!! We appreciate your support. We hope all is well in Corvallis.

20 10 2011

Not even to mention all the incredible, transformative work you all are doing to make Eugene and Oregon a better place! Awesome stuff.

13 08 2012
expressions » Blog Archive » Golden Girl and Golden Buddha on to Portland

[…] There is a real feeling of leisure in the city. People do not push pass you or pound the pavement. Most stop to engage in conversation along the sidewalk. […]

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