TIME: 10 A.M. -- 3 P.M.
65000 East U.S. HIGHWAY 26, BRIGHTWOOD, Oregon


Held during the month of November before the snow buries Mount Hood's natural landscapes, this is an event where people can give the 11,235-foot peak a special Thanksgiving gift by cleaning up illegal trash dumps. The clean-up sites are located along the Oregon Trail, adjacent to Salmon streams, near Beaver Dams, in big-game Winter range and other wildlife habits, as well as in other places. The participants are rewarded with seemingly unlimited cookies and pastries, and even receive a "Certificate of Appreciation". Special music is provided at the awards assembly held after the clean-up. Great for both individuals and families!

Oregon's Mount Hood, a special Mountain that Native Americans called "Wy'East", has long stood as the symbol of Oregon. However, this beautiful 11,235-foot snow-clad peak unfortunately has become the free garbage dump to enough people that eight years ago the Cascade Geographic Society began an annual Autumn clean-up. With the assistance of unselfish, hardworking volunteers, often times braving the rain and cold weather, major dump sites on public lands have been transitioned from disgusting trash heaps to something a lot more pleasant to the eye and the environment.

So now each year when Autumn emerges between the Summer and the Winter seasons, with it comes a tradition that allows people of all ages and walks of life to give Mount Hood a special Thanksgiving gift...in the form of an annual clean-up. Anyone can participate in the upcoming Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up, which is scheduled for Saturday, November 13th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Further Background

"Mount Hood's illegal dump‚sites have changed over the years", explained Michael P. Jones, one of the organizers of the annual Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up. When we began the first of our major clean-ups eight years ago, the majority of Mount Hood's illegal trash dumps on the west side of the Mountain could be attributed to a handful of local residents who tossed their household garbage, yard debris, and even construction waste in natural areas or even just along the roadways. But, last year our analysis of the garbage has revealed that today the trash is also coming in from people who live in such areas as far away as Sandy, Gresham, Troutdale, Portland, Beaverton, Oregon City, and Hood River, and even Vancouver, Washington.

"These illegal dumpers -- who are either individuals or entire families -- are very selfish in their actions and have no concern for the environment of Mount Hood, its fish or wildlife, its history, or even the economic development associated with tourism and recreation. The only thing that they care about is to save a few dollars on their trash bill by illegally dumping their garbage wherever it's convenient to them."

According to Jones, a good portion of the illegally dumped material could have been recycled. He stressed that on-going education on recycling is needed not only just for those who come up to Mount Hood and utilize it, but also for those individuals who are fortunate enough to live on the Mountain.

Volunteers come from all over to assist in the Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up. They will be picking up trash and identifying hazardous waste sites located on publicly owned lands in the beautiful Mount Hood Corridor. It is essential that clean-ups be conducted regularly in this important corridor of cultural and natural history, in order to try to keep up with the heavy amount of illegal dumping that occurs year-round from both local residents and the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Mount Hood area.

One of the most important reasons for conducting the Mount Hood Public Lands Clean Up during the rainy and cold late Autumn season is its benefit for Wintering wildlife. Big game, such as deer and elk, are forced down into the lower elevation areas during the bad periods of Winter, and need a clean environment instead of one that is covered with human debris that has been illegally dumped.

"Human trash is hazardous to wildlife," stressed Jones. "it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. Pollution of any sort does nothing but harm. And, since this is Winter when natural habitat becomes the most critical, this is the ideal time to clean up the living rooms and bedrooms for wildlife".

Some areas are so bad that they actually need to be gated, which would still allow the public access by foot, but not with motor vehicles. Not having easy access with a car or truck, tends to reduce a lot of the illegal dumping at certain sites, or even eliminates it altogether.

Historically, one of the worst illegal dumping areas was East Miller Road, which is located just off of East U.S. Highway 26 near the Village of Brightwood. Abandoned cars, appliances, furniture, old tires, heaps of glass bottles and jars, tin cans and plastic containers, old tires, rusted metal, and dump truck loads of home trash, and a lot of other garbage dominated the once pristine landscape.

"The Miller Road area was probably the worst of all of the dump sites," said Jones. "Besides trash dumping, there was poaching of deer and salmon taking place, tearing up roads by four-wheelers, trail bikes and ATM'S. Target shooters were leaving more debris behind than the illegal garbage dumpers. There was just no other alternative than to try and save the public's resources in this area by gating it off to motor vehicles. Trails and roads were getting so adversely impacted by four-wheelers, trail bikes, and ATM's that they couldn't even continue traveling over them, so they started creating new ones through the wood," explained Jones. "They even took a pond and wetland area and made a race track out of it every time it dried up in the late summer during the drought periods. Closing down access to motorized vehicles was the only logical alternative. Today, this area is recovering and is coming back as one of Mount Hood's most important big-game Winter ranges and natural areas."

Many years of effort by the participants in the Cascade Geographic Society's Mt. Hood Public Lands Clean-Up had focused on the Miller Road area adjacent to the Salmon River, a federally designated Wild and Scenic River. And, in regard to illegal trash dumping, these efforts are beginning to make a difference. However, in all other areas we are, unfortunately, still losing to these resource abusers.

After being gated five years ago, things dramatically changed for the better on East Miller Road. Garbage that had long distressed this natural area was hauled out by volunteers during the clean-ups, and, thankfully, no longer reappeared.

What happened on East Miller Road was typical, but gating is always the last resort. Anglers and other recreationists utilizing the Salmon River still had access, but it was less convenient. No longer could they drive their motor vehicles down to the river, but now they had to hike in. Not surprisingly, this successfully reduced the trash left behind by about 99 per cent.

However, not all problem areas can be gated, which is expensive as well as difficult to build something that can withstand vandalism. So, the "key" for success in battling garbage dumpers is volunteers. These dedicated individuals

not only help in keeping these sites clean, but they also assist in educating

others, trying to insure that they do not become like those who seem to have no regard for Mount Hood and its precious resources and leave their garbage behind.

As much as possible, the trash will be recycled. During last year's Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up, the Cascade Geographic Society and its volunteers recycled scrap metal, aluminum, paper, cardboard, and lumber, as well as car batteries and old tires. And, if it's at all possible, we will also be securing illegal dump sites in an attempt to prevent further illegal dumping in the future.

The Cascade Geographic Society's Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up involves many different interest groups besides citizens. The participants include individuals and families, students from the Portland Metropolitan area schools, Mount Hood Salmon Trout Enhancement Program, the Mount Hood Chapter of The Wildlife Fund, Sandy River Basin Heritage Association, Mount Hood Independent Steelheaders, Metro, Clackamas County Department of Transportation and Development, and several other groups and individual businesses. All members of the public are invited to join together in this very important event on November 13th.

Once again, students from Sabin Elementary School will be on hand to participate in the Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up. Organized by fourth-fifth grade teacher Nita Kreuzer, these K-5th grade representatives from Sabin have loyally demonstrated that they really do love Mount Hood and have always contributed their part in giving this beautiful Oregon Mountain this special Thanksgiving gift.

"This will be the eighth year that the students from Sabin Elementary School will have participated, which says a lot about this inner-city school, which also includes former students who are now in middle school and high school, as well as their families," said Jones. "In my opinion they represent some great examples of dedication and respect that people should follow. If everyone loved this symbol of Oregon that we know today as Mount Hood as much as the students from Sabin, then this Mountain wouldn't have the problem that it has today, such as illegal garbage dumping.

The Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up also serves as an education to the participants. Many are shocked to see that sections of the Oregon Trail are being trashed, as well as wetlands, Salmon habitat, riparian areas along streams, meadows, beaver dams, around ponds and lakes, and at historic sites.

"People learn that no place is safe from illegal trash dumpers whether it's the Oregon Trail or the Sandy or Salmon Rivers," said Jones. "They are shocked but at least they are trying to do something about it. They are not just sitting around crying about the bad things that a few selfish people are doing- they are actually putting their frustration into action."

Anyone wishing to assist in the November 14th clean-up should get in touch with the Cascade Geographic Society, including those who do not particularly want to go out and gather trash from the natural landscape. Of particular interest is someone who can letter the certificates that will be given for the Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up while the clean-up activities are underway.

In addition to needing volunteers for the Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up, also needed are pickup trucks for hauling trash. These can either be two-wheel or four-wheel, since most of the roads leading to the clean-up sites will be paved.

All individuals and groups interested in participating in the Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up should meet at Mt. Hood Village in the Fireside Room, located at 64000 E. Highway 26 in Brightwood, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 13th. People are encouraged to bring a pair of work gloves to handle trash, rain gear if needed, and suitable footwear to keep their feet dry. In addition, they should bring a sack lunch. They will undergo a short introductory session on what they should or should not pick up during the clean-up. The registration for all volunteers will take place at 10 a.m. at Mt. Hood Village. Free pastries and hot drinks will be provided to participants.

When the actual clean-up begins, volunteers will head out to a dump site with a group leader and a pickup truck. Trash will be hauled to a strategically located dumpster so that all clean-up groups participating in the Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up will have easy access.

At the conclusion of the clean-up, all participants in the Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up will eat their lunch back at Mt. Hood Village. Here, once more, they will be treated to some more goodies and hot drinks, besides receiving a certificate of appreciation.

Recycling information and special handouts will be available throughout the clean-up day for all participants. In addition, special teacher packets and curriculums on recycling prepared by the Office of External Affairs for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can be obtained anytime prior to or after the Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up from the Cascade Geographic Society.

"The Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up is a time to give a special Thanksgiving gift for Mount Hood, which has given us so much," stressed Jones. "It gives us incredible natural resources, scenic beauty, recreational opportunities, history galore, and many sacred and special places that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The donation of a few hours can help make a difference. Anyone, no matter what their age, occupation, or environmental belief, can participate."

For further information on the Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up, please contact Michael P. Jones of the Cascade Geographic Society at (503) 622-4798, Fliers and posters are available for any individual or group who wants them.