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A volunteer group called 'Friends of Oaks Bottom' have come and gone. But now -- it's back!

RITA A. LEONARD - Young Ezra Cohen is the leader of the newly-reactivated Friends of Oaks Bottom.The "Friends of Oaks Bottom" organization gradually lost impetus over the years, eventually becoming inactive; but as of late last year, the group has reassembled with a new logo and leader, and is ready to get to work. Ezra Cohen, a young Sellwood bird-watcher, is the new head of the core group of five.

Last fall, Cohen and fifteen volunteers, with help from SMILE's Natural Amenities Committee (SNAC), cleared a large amount of trash from Oaks Bottom. SMILE is the neighborhood association for Sellwood and Westmoreland, and is the oldest of Portland's 95 neighborhood associations. Elizabeth Milner, Chair of SNAC, favors the idea that the new Friends of Oaks Bottom become a SNAC subcommittee of SMILE. The group, encouraged by the earlier response, scheduled a similar event for March 6.

On that Saturday, some two dozen volunteers of all ages assembled at Sellwood Riverfront Park to stage for a second cleanup. The Oregon nonprofit SOLV ("Stop Oregon Litter & Vandalism") provided gloves, vests, bags, and grabbers.

A brief introduction described the process to the assembled volunteers: "You don't have to pick up anything you're uncomfortable with. We have sharps containers available, so notify us if you spot any used hypodermic needles, and we'll handle it." The group separated into two teams, one led by Joshua Meyers covering the cliff trail, and the other led by Ezra Cohen which followed the paved Springwater Traill used by bicyclers and joggers.

RITA A. LEONARD - These are participants in the March 6 cleanup, held in the wildlife refuge by the revived Friends of Oaks Bottom.Volunteers picked up everything from discarded trash to golf balls, and even an old saw blade. Stragglers focused on cigarette butts, and small bits of glass and metal. Many passersby thanked the volunteers, who said they enjoyed the views – and pointed out a few notable birds, including red-tailed hawks and a juvenile bald eagle.

For about an hour, teams proceeded roughly to the north end of Oaks Amusement Park, where a stairway through the blackberries gave access to a paved street below. Then volunteers returned to the starting area, sharing thoughts and pointing out areas where homeless folks were camping, which were deemed out-of-bounds for this cleanup.

Back at the starting point, bags and equipment were gathered, and contact information was collected for further cleanup occasions – leaving the volunteers to enjoy the rest of their day, and to reflect on their good deeds and exercise.


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