River cleanup uncovers 2,000 pounds of debris

August 3, 2017
River cleanup uncovers 2,000 pounds of debris

The divers, paddleboarders and kayakers who scoured the water Saturday during the Deschutes River Clean-Up pulled out more than 2,000 pounds of debris, the most found in the event’s 21-year history.

Central Oregon Diving, which had 27 divers and 1 snorkeler at the cleanup, tallied the debris this week. Among the items was a sunken $3,700 canoe that disappeared in May during the Spring Paddlefest. Diver Kurt Cundiff found the canoe, dug it out with his hands and was able to return it to its owner.

Other large items included a flag pole pipe, truck tires and orange construction cones. More than 75 pairs of sunglasses, over 50 single shoes, keys, wallets and dozens of cellphones were also found in the river. In addition, volunteers found more than 200 aluminum cans and over 130 glass bottles, and some were unopened.

There was not enough manpower at the event to sort and salvage all the items, so they were kept by the volunteer who found them or thrown in dumpsters.

Sarah Clark, an owner of Central Oregon Diving who volunteered Saturday, said having the divers work with the paddleboarders and kayakers made this year’s event a success.

“I think it was about two years ago, we started putting boaters on the water, and that makes it invaluable,” Clark said. “Everybody has had to step up their game to attempt to make this safe but effective.”

The event is coordinated each year by the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council, with help from the city of Bend and Deschutes County Search and Rescue. Central Oregon Diving has participated for the past 15 years.

About 160,000 people each summer float the river through Bend on inner tubes, kayaks or paddleboards. Many of them lose personal items, but Clark was surprised to find so much debris that was intentionally thrown in the river.

Divers on Saturday found a computer hard drive, a garden hose and a 20-pound anchor, Clark said.

With the mass of people on the river, Clark thinks about all the debris not found Saturday, and the new debris settling to the bottom each day.

She hopes more people join in cleanup events, and are more careful about leaving debris in the river.

“It’s a vital thing unfortunately that the community needs to get involved in,” Clark said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, kspurr@bendbulletin.com

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