On a calm grey morning in early July (July 9th to be exact), 32 volunteers gathered in Oswald West State Park for a few hours of good old-fashioned beach cleaning, followed by a bbq at the lovely and hospitable Lower Nehalem Community Trust’s Alder Creek Farm. In attendance were a strong-willed and wonderful collection of men, women and children, dogs with oversized paws, grandparents visiting town from the South, members of the Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, loyal friends of Surfrider members – joining for their first ever event, preschoolers who get car sick but start to feel better when they catch sight of the beach (okay only one of those), videographers, nurses, a Surfrider National’s Environmental Director (Hi, Pete!), med students, retired folks, surfers, and more.

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Needless to say it was a lot of fun.

To start the morning off we split the groups up so that we could cover as much ground as possible. We had cohorts at Falcon Cove, Short Sands and Neahkanie Beach. As the event followed one week after all the shenanigans that go along with celebrating the 4th (ie. beer drinking, fireworks lighting, bbq having – you get the picture), there is a lot of trash that makes its way to the beach and that unfortunately is not packed out when visitors leave.

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Each of our groups collected several garbage bags of trash – the group at Falcon Cove alone had enough bags to fill up a truck bed to give you an idea. The kind of trash found differed drastically depending on the ways each of the beaches are used. Neahkanie, a family destination for the 4th, was littered with fireworks canisters, cigarette butts – (which Surfrider is working to eliminate on Oregon beaches through our HOTYB program), beer cans, and single-use plastic food containers. In comparison, Falcon Cove, a more secluded, residential beach was a goldmine of large debris washed ashore, some of which our volunteers discovered likely drifted from Japan. Other items found were used and out of commission crab pots and gear, broken plastic containers, styrofoam, soda bottles, and more. Our crew could have built a mildly functional vessel for two out of all of the plastic, styrofoam and rope we found.

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After high-fiving and packing all of the trash out to the trail head to be collected by State Parks, we meandered over to Alder Creek farm, a 50 acre wildlife sanctuary also serving as a community garden located on the northern edge of Nehalem Bay. There we were treated by our hosts to a garden tour where we learned all about their rotating crops and how community is built through growing food. Finally we feasted, then went our separate ways.

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Join up for more awesome upcoming events like this one, for instance, the SUP and Cleanup happening TODAY, August 9, 6-8:30 PM at Sellwood Park riverfront. Hope to see you there!