The sun was already up and seventeen or eighteen folks, both experienced and newcomers had gathered at the Aspen & D Street Boat ramp in Springfield with a plan to pick up trash in the river and along its banks. Two organizers, with the Willamette Riverkeeper and the City of Eugene, gave us a fun introduction, instruction, and safety talk. The volunteers with personal boats pushed off with picking tools, gloves and bags, and the rest jumped into two big rafts, all the cleanup and safety gear, including PFDs were provided. The rafts serve as both people movers as well as major trash haulers as we moved down both sides of the river, under the I-5 Whilamut Passage Bridge, and on through Eugene to where we will be landing at the Alton Baker Boat Ramp around 12:30. This would be a half day effort and part of the River Guardians Program.
The River Guardians Program works throughout the Willamette basin in partnership with local communities to report and clean up the immense amount of debris found in our river and on its banks. The program runs across all 187 miles of the Willamette mainstem and sections of its tributaries, with monthly cleanups in Portland, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene-Springfield, and surrounding areas.
River monitoring is completed on a regular basis by volunteers, and once a month cleanups are focused on problem areas identified by local citizens, volunteers, land managers, and other stakeholders. The River Guardians Program emphasizes solutions-based actions aimed at protecting and restoring a healthy riparian environment, ultimately serving all people (directly and indirectly) who live along and in the Willamette River Basin, which makes up 70% of Oregon’s population and houses all its major cities.
The River Guardians Program has increased stakeholder collaboration, community engagement, clean water advocacy, and cleanup efforts to help address the massive increase in riverside impacts due to population growth, industry, pollution, and a growing houseless presence in riparian areas.
"It was very satisfying to fill bags with junk and trash as we paddled down the river through town. Cleaning up is something I like to do when I'm outside, and being on the river with like minded friends—reveling in finding more to haul out is FUN." ~Livin' Adkins
At Hummingbird, the power of people and community have moved us to create and add our Volunteer Program to our co-worker benefits plan. We believe that volunteering is a down-to-earth way to harness this power. In an effort to be of service in our community with our skills, knowledge, and labor, Hummingbird provides stipends for our coworkers to volunteer with many organizations that are forging a path of sustainability for the good of all. So, our birds can volunteer with one of these organizations (or work to add a new organization they know about) and contribute in their own way, and Hummingbird reimburses them for their time. Everyone Wins!