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Yellow, reusable litter bags can be found at popular recreation sites in the watershed.

To remind river users to clean up their trash, the Clackamas River Basin Council has distributed free reusable bags at popular recreation sites along the Clackamas River. This year, the bags have a new, eye-catching bright yellow color.

The Clackamas River Basin Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that fosters partnerships for clean water and to improve fish and wildlife habitat and the quality of life for those who live, work and recreate in the watershed.

The Clackamas River is one of the most easily accessible rivers in the Portland metro area, making it an increasingly popular destination for floating, boating, fishing, swimming or picnicking. But the rise in recreation brings an unfortunate side effect: trash.

To address the increasing amount of trash found in the Clackamas River, the Clackamas River Basin Council initiated the Stash the Trash program in 2006 to provide reusable litter bags to help visitors combat the rise in litter. Each year, in partnership with Clackamas County and Oregon State Parks, the Clackamas River Basin Council distributes approximately 6,000 Stash the Trash bags between Memorial Day and Labor Day at Milo McIver State Park, Barton County Park, Barton Convenience Store, Carver Boat Ramp and Riverside Park.

COURTESY PHOTO: THE CLACKAMAS RIVER BASIN COUNCIL  - The Clackamas River Basin Council has added a new Stash the Trash stand at Cross Park. Bags also can be found at five stands accessible only by boat or tube. New this year is a bag stand at Cross Park in partnership with the city of Gladstone.

"Our goal for the Stash the Trash program is to prevent garbage from entering the water in the first place," said Amy Barton, Clackamas River Basin Council communications and stewardship manager. "These yellow bags serve as a reminder to river users to not only be more aware of their trash and waste, but to actively take part by picking up after themselves and even others."

The Clackamas River Basin Council partners with We Love Clean Rivers to keep an eye on the levels of trash found in the river year-round. After several spring and early summer river floats, the amount of visible trash is low overall. After recreation season, however, it will be a different story.

In response to the trash, the Clackamas River Basin Council and We Love Clean Rivers organize the annual Down the River Cleanup after recreation season. This year's event will take place Sunday, Sept. 11. The cleanup has drawn hundreds of volunteers and removed nearly 42 tons of trash from the river since 2004.

This work is amplified by volunteers like Tina Johnson who, with a group of friends, replenishes bags weekly and collects trash along riverbanks and around stands. These volunteers float the river every week during summer months, collecting trash and litter and reducing the impact of recreation. COURTESY PHOTO: THE CLACKAMAS RIVER BASIN COUNCIL  - The Clackamas River Basin Council and We Love Clean Rivers organize the annual Down the River Cleanup in response to the trash that accumulates during the recreation season.

"The Clackamas River is so beautiful and close to where we live. Thousands of people use it, and I would like them to have the best experience possible," Johnson said.

Through the We Love Clean Rivers' River Ambassador Program, Johnson also staffs a table at Barton Park where she encourages recreational users to grab a Stash the Trash bag before they hit the water.

Aside from being a drinking water source for 300,000 Oregonians, the Clackamas River is home to a diverse array of wildlife including several species of threatened and endangered fish species. Trash in the river threatens fish and wildlife, drinking water quality and the river's scenic beauty.

Stash the Trash is funded by Clackamas River Water Providers, Clackamas County Parks, Clackamas County Sustainability & Solid Waste Program, Warn Industries, Dump Stoppers, Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District, Oregon State Parks, We Love Clean Rivers, Water Environment Services, Bottle Drop and the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative.

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