EUGENE / SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (KMTR) -- Hundreds of volunteers up and down the Willamette Valley spent Saturday getting their hands wet and dirty, pulling hundreds of pounds of garbage from both the water and the banks of the Willamette River.
Part of a massive regional effort, volunteers took participated in the Fourth Annual Great Willamette Clean Up event along 187 miles of the Willamette River on Saturday, October 6. The effort is a regional clean-up event taking place in Portland, Corvallis-Albany, the Eugene-Springfield area and other locations.
About 130 people pitched in near Eugene and Springfield, hauling out hundreds of pounds of trash from the river banks and the water.
"You see what we got: [a] couple of tires, sleeping bags, there's a lot of bottles and shoes and thongs and stuff like that,” said Al Graple, a volunteer in the river clean-up.
Al worked with a team of about ten volunteers with the Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club, which lead most of the water trash collecting. Teams pulled out jagged pieces of metal, tires, transient camp materials, shoes and more.
Volunteers says what drives them is the beauty of the river and the enjoyment they get out of it, also knowing that they’re helping fish and wildlife.
"You know I think I really love the Willamette River. I mean, it's a wonderful resource and anything we can kind of do to make it better I think is worth doing. Yeah, it feels good!” said Graple,
On land, volunteers picked up much bigger items including bicycles and a shopping cart. The City of Eugene Parks Department and Springfield’s Willamalane Parks District helped in the clean-up as well, picking up hazardous items like used needles. The parks crews also hauled away the trash free of charge.
"People were here bright and early [at] 8:30 AM and ready to go and wanted to get out here and get as much taken care of as they could and it just feels good. It's nice to know that we can look to our community to take care of it and especially this amazing river corridor and resource that we have here in Eugene,” said Carrie Karl with the Eugene Park Stewards Program.
Some of the river clean-up was also filmed by an independent non-profit film crew named Fresh Waters Illustrated. They’re shooting a documentary about the river called 'Willamette Futures' which will profile the work that has been done and what still needs to be done to improve the water system.