The sun was out in full force as 355 volunteers converged on Barton Park on Sunday, Sept. 8, to participate in the 11th Annual Down the River Clean-Up, sponsored by We Love Clean Rivers.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Milwaukie City Councilor Mark Gamba launches from Barton Park and heads down the Clackamas River during the 'Down the River Clean-up' on Sept. 8.Sam Drevo, founding board member and vice president of the organization, welcomed everyone and thanked the numerous partners who came together to make the Clackamas River cleanup happen.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Jess Oberg, left, and sisters Molly Luettgerodt and Kim Svela clean up broken glass and gather cans, bottles, discarded flip flops and more as they clean up a small island in the middle of the river.Saying it was “wonderful to see this event thrive,” Drevo introduced Cheryl McGinnis, executive director of the Clackamas River Basin Council, who told the crowd that more than 400,000 people get their drinking water from the river.

She also noted that the Clackamas River is the last significant winter Coho salmon stream in the watershed, filled with cutthroat trout and many other fish species.

Volunteers then gathered their life jackets and met up with their group leaders who went over river-safety procedures with them before directing everyone to the landing area.

Soon colorful rafts and other inflatable watercraft took to the 15-mile stretch of the river between Barton and Carver parks to pick up trash floating in the water, while divers from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office brought bottles, cans and other items up from the river bottom.

Participants deposited recyclables, like bottles and cans, into blue bags, while trash went into white SOLVE bags. Separate containers were set aside for the numerous pieces of broken glass, picked up mostly on the rocky islands or small spits of land along the river.

At Carver Park, members of the Timberlake Job Corps were on hand to sort the trash and recyclable materials into huge dumpsters.

Looking back on the event, Andy Wuest, the event coordinator for We Love Clean Rivers, said that his favorite stories about event involved those items that were the hardest to remove, including two different living-room recliner chairs, that each took four people to remove, and a four-foot tall iron post with a bulb of concrete on the bottom, that took six people to remove.

“My personal favorite was a 14-foot I-beam that likely weighed more than 1,000 pounds, lifted by eight volunteers out of waist-deep, moving water; these stories of teamwork are remarkable,” Wuest added.

For those who missed the Clackamas River cleanup, the Fifth Annual Great Willamette Clean-Up will take place on Saturday, Oct. 5. Visit for more information.

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