Warm weather brings more activity to the Deschutes River and with that, oftentimes litter and debris. The Upper Deschutes Watershed Council invites locals to help protect and maintain the river with the Annual Deschutes River Cleanup on July 29.
The Upper Deschutes Watershed Council protects and restores the watersheds of the entire Deschutes River, hosting events that help people get out and volunteer as well as restoration projects that help maintain the river and the wildlife living in it.
The last full-capacity river cleanup the organization held was in 2019, when volunteers picked up close to 2,600 pounds of garbage from the river. This year's event kicks off at 9am at Farewell Bend Park. The river cleanup itself takes place along five different areas, including Farewell and Riverbend parks, La Pine State Park, First Street Rapids Trail and Tumalo State Park.
Some participants will work along the riverbanks, pulling out weeds and picking up trash. Others will be on paddle boards, joining scuba divers to ensure their safety and helping with garbage removal. According to Kolleen Miller, education director at Upper Deschutes, the clean-up will take several hours.
While the organization's restoration efforts have provided protection to river banks and river habitats, trash and debris is still finding its way into the river. High usage in areas like Riverbend and Farewell parks, Miller said, is the main source of a lot of the debris found during the cleanup.
WATCH: Scenes from the Deschutes River.
"At the river cleanup, we pull out hundreds of pairs of sunglasses, flip-flops. . . cell phones," Miller said. They've even found more challenging items like a wood stove, a safe and a canoe.
In addition to making sure that people use river access points, Miller advises that the most important way to prevent trash from getting into the river is for people to secure their belongings.
This year's event already has 100% registration, with 200 volunteers joining for the cleanup. While it has already reached its goal for volunteers, Miller said locals are still welcome to come out, talk to vendors and help with certain cleanup tasks. "We hope that people can enjoy the river, but recognizing it is a home for wildlife and that they can respect it and protect it," said Miller.