Ochoco Creek Cleanup in need of volunteers
The annual Ochoco Creek Fall Cleanup is almost upon us once again, and volunteers are needed to help beautify the local parks.
Carol Benkosky, president of Crook County Rotary, has helped to coordinate the annual cleanup for several years.
"This year, we are trying to do more than just the creek itself," explained Benkosky. "We want to do the whole park system also, so there wouldn't be any age limit."
She added that they are opening it up to both in-stream and upland cleaning as well, which gives more opportunity for kids to help out. Youth who are under 13 must not be in the creek, and all youth must be accompanied by an adult.
The cleanup will begin at Ochoco Creek on Saturday, Oct. 17. If there are enough volunteers, they will spread out to Crooked River Park and along the Crooked River.
"Crooked River Park can also use cleaning, and along the Crooked River is always a good spot to try to hit in the fall, so we can get a lot of that garbage out before the snow compacts it down into the ground," she added.
Benkosky said they also have a cleanup during Earth Day, and they cover Ochoco Viewpoint State Park, Harwood Park, Ochoco Creek Park and Pioneer Park. She noted that Crook County Parks and Recreation partners with the Rotarians. They provide employees who help with bags and other important tasks during cleanup.
"It's a mutual thing, and I don't know if I could do it without their help," said Benkosky.
SOLVE Oregon also helps sponsor the event and provides first aid kits, gloves and bags. They also have a small grants program, which Benkosky indicated they use the funds to buy trash pickers.
"This year, anyone who comes, they get to keep their picker, because we aren't going to sanitize them," she laughed.
Other sponsors include Ochoco Brewing, Deschutes Land Trust and Prineville Disposal. She shared some interesting and odd items that they have found in the Ochoco Creek and Crooked River during cleanup. Among the strange items were a couple of Boogie Boards, shopping carts, bicycles, and even an oxygen tank.
"We pick up a lot of slurpy-type cups, fast-food container type things," she added.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, interested participants must sign up ahead of time with SOLVE Oregon. To go to the website, go to SOLVE, or enter www.solveoregon.org and type in Ochoco in the "Find a Volunteer Opportunity" box under the "Get Involved" tab. Ochoco Creek Fall Instream Cleanup should pop up. Read the instructions and sign up.
"This way, we will not have any crowding or shared pens and clipboards before starting the cleanup," said Benkosky.
She pointed out that they are trying to keep family groups and friends together.
"If you can form your own team of four (two with waders) for the in-stream work, that would be great – just send me an email with the four names so I can put you together," said Benkosky. "We will be trying to stagger the arrival times to avoid too many folks gathered around the pavilion."
The cleanup starts at 11 a.m. this Saturday at Pioneer Park to give time to get everyone out during the warmest part of the day. Volunteers will be given a map, bags and pickers.
"We are also encouraging folks not interested in the in-stream work or with younger children to help us clean the uplands and community parks, since we missed Earth Day this year," Benkosky went on to say. "And every bit of trash removed from the uplands is one less piece that can be blown into the creek."
There will be a table with bags and pickers available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"I hope you will be willing to help out this year. There is far too much trash in the creek right now," Benkosky said. "Help us get it out of there."
To sign up for the Saturday, Oct. 17 cleanup, go to www.solveoregon.org. All volunteers need to sign up ahead of time. Supplies will be at Pioneer Park between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Please wear sturdy shoes. Pickers, trash bags and vinyl gloves will be provided. All ages are welcome.
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