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Volunteers return to clean up McKenzie River

Jul 14, 2013


By The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD — For the 34th year, volunteers scanned the waters and banks of the McKenzie River, cleaning up 70 miles of the waterway.

Saturday's annual McKenzie River Cleanup attracted an estimated 60 to 70 volunteers to pluck trash out of the river or picked garbage off riverbanks, The Eugene Register-Guard reported.

The cleanup, which featured land-based volunteers and those in boats, covered about 70 miles of the river, from the Ollalie Campground, south of Sahalie Falls in the Willamette National Forest, to Armitage Park, north of Eugene.

The river is popular for fishing, rafting and boating, and it's Eugene's source of drinking water.

Nicole Rodgers, a new Eugene Water & Electric Board employee who moved from California, said the main reason she came to Oregon is that people care about the environment.

“I just came from California, where there is so much trash and junk,” she said. “I just figured since I'm here, I might as well try and keep Oregon clean.”

Many of the volunteers were from the company. A group of 22 people, composed of 11 Eugene Water & Electric Board employees and their families, cleared the area around Leaburg Lake and the fish hatchery, which is a popular area for steelhead fisherman.

“It's a pristine river,” said Chris Taylor, an EWEB employee and lifelong Leaburg resident who organized the work party. “But if it's full of pop cans and garbage, it can take away our enjoyment of it. We're all proud to be just helping to keep it clean.”

Scouring the river's edge, EWEB employee Roger Kline said he had found discarded fishing line, soda cans, food wrappers, a pair of men's underwear and toilet paper near the water.

The cleanup, in its 34th year, was organized by the McKenzie River Guides Association, McKenzie Flyfishers and McKenzie Watershed Council.

It's an important yearly event for the McKenzie River, said Larry Six, executive director of the McKenzie Watershed Council.

Altogether, the EWEB work party collected a Dumpster full of trash, Six said.

The amount of found garbage along the river varied by location, he said. Some upriver work parties didn't find much garbage, but those closer to urban areas found more, especially when they discovered abandoned homeless camps, Six said.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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