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Oregon's Fall Cleanup Gets Underway This Weekend

September 22, 2011

SALEM, Ore. - National Public Lands Day brings Oregonians out by the hundreds to help on a variety of outdoor cleanup and fix-up projects around the state. More than 30 events are planned this Saturday. For Oregonians who have a favorite trail, lake or campsite, it's a chance to make some important improvements to well-used areas, and meet their neighbors as well.

In Douglas County, it's the 29th year of the Umpqua Basin Cleanup. Ariel Hiller, volunteer coordinator at the Roseburg Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office, says this year's focus is on litter control, and people will get a lot more out of it than a cleaner county.

"They can get a better sense of investment in their own community, and when people are invested in where they live, they want to take care of it. They want to make sure that they show their pride in it. Laughing and having fun as you drag those random bags of fast food up out of the ditch does build a sense of community."

In the Sisters area, preventing further erosion along the banks of the Metolius River is the goal of Saturday's projects. Karly Hedrick, volunteer coordinator for Sisters Ranger District, USDA Forest Service, expects a good crowd for a day of hard work with a long-term payoff.

"When they return there, and they see that their plants have grown and that the area they helped to bring back is so beautiful, it really gives them a sense of ownership and connection, in a way that a lot of people don't have."

In the Quartzville and Sweet Home areas, volunteers will restore bird habitat and clean up campgrounds and trails. It's work that federal agencies have had to put off due to dwindling budgets, and Traci Meredith with the Salem District BLM says they appreciate those who pitch in.

"Volunteers make up a majority of the extra help that we need to get some of these projects done, and they wouldn't get done otherwise. Every year on National Public Lands Day, people come out and give back to the public agencies that help the land."

For most of the National Public Lands Day projects, people can just show up, although some of the organizers would appreciate knowing how many volunteers to expect. The times, locations and details for each event are listed online at www.PublicLandsDay.org. (Click on "Oregon" on the map.)

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR