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Event includes removing trash from 23 sites in the watershed, raffle and barbecue

PHOTO BY GARY WOLFF - Alan Rahi, a communications specialist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, hauls trash out of Johnson Creek during last years clean-up.  The salmon love Johnson Creek and the Johnson Creek Watershed Council is inviting the community to feel that love on Aug. 24 for the 12th COURTESY PHOTO - Volunteers gather at Mill Park during last year's JCWC clean-up. annual creek clean-up. Many of the volunteers who attend the event will get the opportunity to get their feet wet as they hop into the water to pull out trash.

"It's a fun way to experience the creek in a totally new way," said Courtney Beckel, JCWC volunteer program manager.

The overall purpose of the event is to remove trash and improve habitat in Johnson Creek, the area's only salmon-bearing tributary.

Annual clean-up

Volunteers are asked to meet at 8 a.m. at Mill Park in Milwaukie for a brief introduction to the event, and then groups will carpool to one of 23 sites in the watershed. Work parties will pick up trash at locations "ranging from the Cedar Crossing covered bridge near Foster Boulevard, all the way down to the mouth of the creek where it meets the Willamette River in Milwaukie," Beckel said.

She noted that Melanie Klym, JCWC board chair, goes through the creek at every site doing water-safety checks on the weekends previous to the event. Klym also makes sure that all the clean-up team captains are properly trained and have the correct equipment to get the trash out.

Those who don't want to get their feet wet can pick up trash at several park sites, help with the barbecue or take photos of the event.

At noon volunteers meet back at Mill Park for a free barbecue, raffle and a quirky awards ceremony.

"We give two awards — one for the dirtiest volunteer and one for the weirdest item of trash found," Beckel said.

Items found in the past include a child's unicorn costume and Yiddish flash cards, she noted.

There will also be a raffle, and every volunteer will be given a raffle ticket when they check in and can purchase more tickets if they want.

Community support

Volunteers are asked to pre-register for the clean-up, so that "we can get enough food for the barbecue, and also to map out ahead of time where the 23 teams are going," Beckel said.

The first 200 people will get a free T-shirt, she said, adding that this year's T-shirt was designed by Cordella James, an artist who lives in the Lents neighborhood.

"We held an art contest for the T-shirt and she was the winner; the design is so detailed and so intricate," Beckel said.

The community should support the event, she said, "because every year we remove more than five tons of trash. Trash accumulates in the creek, and if we don't take it out it will end up in the Willamette River or the ocean."

Trash in the creek is "detrimental to wildlife, who might mistake it for food," Beckel said.


PMG PHOTO: ELLEN SPITALERI - Ni Ni, a summer intern with the JCWC, draws a dragonfly while chatting with Courtney Beckel, JCWC volunteer program manager. Part of Beckel's job in the summer is overseeing young interns who help her with planning the clean-up and gathering raffle prizes.

"It is really rewarding to work with the interns who do the outreach and get the donations from the community and corporations," she said.

COURTESY PHOTO - A mermaid ashtray was one of the finds during the last clean-up event.Ni Ni and Yanling Joslin, two 16-year-old girls who will be juniors at Cleveland High School in the fall, have worked with Beckel this summer.

Ni said she has helped put out press releases for the clean-up and also called people on the phone asking for prizes for the raffle.

In addition, she has learned how cleaning up the water in the creek helps fish and has also developed an interest in dragonflies.

The creatures remind her of her childhood, when she lived in a refugee camp in Thailand, Ni said.

Joslin said she has been working on outreach for the event and created a series of social media posts promoting the clean-up.

"I'm interested in social media and communications as a possible career," she noted, adding that she has also learned more about the importance of the environment.

Joslin said that the most fun part of the internship has been "working with the other interns. We are all so different, but we have come together to see how we can promote this community event."

Hop in the creek!

What: 12th annual Johnson Creek Clean-up

When: 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Aug. 24; a free barbecue for volunteers takes place from 12:30-2 p.m.

COURTESY PHOTO - A volunteer who walked in Johnson Creek hands his found objects to another volunteer on the bank.Where: Volunteers will meet at Mill Park, 6201 S.E. Overland, Milwaukie, and then fan out to more than 20 locations in the Johnson Creek watershed.

Register: To register for the event and to learn more, visit

Coming up: Families are invited to Science in the Park from noon-2 p.m. on Sept. 7 at Mill Park, and volunteers are needed for the Friends of Errol Heights Trash Clean-up from 9 a.m.-noon on Sept. 21 at 45th and Southeast Tenino.

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