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VOLUME 9/NUMBER 10      NEWSLETTER       Nov., 2002

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Cascade Geographic Society's 11th Annual Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up

Saturday, November 9th, 2002 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

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    Volunteers of all ages are wanted to assist in this year's “Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up”.  This event is beginning its eleventh year, and is an ideal project for just about anyone, including families, organizations, and even businesses.

    This year's annual “Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up” will take place over a ten-day period, with the main volunteer involvement day taking place on Saturday, November 9th.  The Cascade Geographic Society, which has organized this event for the past ten years, believes that the extension of this annual effort, from six to twelve days, will obviously have an even greater positive impact on the Mountain's ever-impressive natural environment. 

    It is unfortunate to note that clean-up efforts on Mount Hood like this one are becoming extremely necessary as natural areas and cultural and historic sites are increasingly abused and vandalized.  Unfortunately, this beautiful Mountain and its surrounding landscapes that have become the symbol of not only the State of Oregon, but also the Northwest, seems to have become a “dumping ground” for household trash and construction debris that comes from as far east of the Mountain as Hood River and The Dallas, and from Washington State town's as Battleground and Vancouver, Washington.

    It is important to eliminate as much of this illegally-dumped human trash as possible in our natural areas, for such debris has proven itself to be harmful to fish and wildlife.  This garbage ends up in our streams, riparian areas, and wetlands, not to mention in wildlife habitats.

“Even the items that we humans believe to be the least harmful to dump can have devastating impacts to our wildlife species,” explained Michael P. Jones, one of the organizers.  “Broken glass, which, unfortunately, seems to be part of every illegal dump site, can cut both large and small animals.  A child's balloon can kill birds when swallowed, as can the Popcorn” materials used in packing boxes.”

    Over the years, the adverse impact of human trash on wildlife have been witnessed firsthand by a number of people.  And, each time, the relatively simple task of cleaning-up these illegal trash dumps becomes even more important.

    “We have unfortunately witnessed birds with plastic string or rope wrapped around their legs, hanging dead in trees,” said Jones.  “And, sadly, you also see small wildlife species laying dead, having starved to death after getting entangled in discarded or lost fishing line.”

    The modern conveniences of our society also can be harmful to wildlife if not properly disposed of.  Take for example those clusters of plastic rings that allow people to easily carry a six-pack of beer or pop home from the store; they can be deadly to wild critters.

    “It is not that unusual to see ducks, geese, or other bird species with their heads through plastic rings that were designed to hold cans together for the convenience of people”, said Jones.  “This acts as a strangling device when it gets wrapped around their throats. Yet, this tragedy can be avoided if we humans will cut these plastic rings apart from one another so that if they do get around wildlife, they will be less likely to be harmful to them.”

    All human garbage needs to be disposed of properly.  If not, then our illegally-dumped human trash will continue to injure or even kill our wildlife species. 

    “Even an empty yogurt container, that seems so benevolent when discarded on the natural landscape, has also been  proven to be harmful to wildlife. Over the last year, wildlife species in the Northwest, including even skunks, have been located with this type of trash stuck onto their snouts. With the animal unable to remove it, they have a great difficulty eating, drinking, and even seeing, this will eventually help to kill them.”

    “Most of the wild critters that are harmed by our illegally dumped trash, go off where no human eyes can see their pain and suffering,” said Jones, matter-of-factly.  “We never have the opportunity to see the terrible results of not properly taking care of our garbage.  If we could see the resulting adverse impacts to animals, 99% of the dumpers would most likely never do it again.”

    Some of the volunteers who will be assisting with the “Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up” will be from Portland's inner-city.  In fact, it was students from Sabin Elementary School who have actually been not only the primary labor force for this event, but also the inspiration.

    “Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up” actually began as a unique effort through the Cascade Geographic Society's “Project Discovery”, which is an enrichment program that introduces students from the inner-city to natural, cultural, and historic sites.  A group of participants from Nita Kreuzer's

fourth- and fifth-grade class, many of whom had never been to the Mountain before, contributed their time cleaning-up other people's trash.  And, they loved it, realizing just how important their volunteer work was.

    “The work of the Sabin students touched a lot of people's hearts,” explained Jones.  “They were not here recreating like most people, but, instead, they were here from the inner-city doing a project that was so important to Mount Hood.

“Watching them work, one could not help but to be inspired by these individuals as they gave their time to Mount Hood.  And, always you remember the looks on their faces and the excitement in their voices as they see the mountain of garbage that they removed from Mount Hood's natural landscape. This is why this clean-up has become such an important tradition.”

    Volunteers assisting in the “Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up” will begin cleaning-up “targeted” sites on Tuesday, November 5th, and will work throughout the next two weeks until Tuesday, November 12th, on areas that are more difficult to reach. On Saturday, November 9th, the largest number of volunteers will come together to clean-up the easier and more visible sites which will have the most garbage.  Then on Sunday, still other volunteers will complete cleaning any of the sites that did not get finished on Saturday.

    “If you love Mount Hood, or use it for any reason, this is a positive, hands-on way to demonstrate it,” explained Jones.  “This effort is critical because we'll be removing trash from the landscape which will be harder to clean-up after it goes through the winter season.”

    Those wishing to volunteer for the “Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up” should meet whether rain or shine in the Fireside Room at Mt. Hood Village, located at 65000 East U.S. Highway 26, near the Village of Brightwood.  They should bring gloves, a sack lunch, dress for the weather, and should expect to have a great time while they help Mount Hood.

    Desperately needed are pickup trucks and trailers in all sizes.  These will assist in hauling trash from the illegal dump sites to the garbage dumpsters.

    Free refreshments will be offered prior to the “Mount Hood Public Land's Clean-Up” as well as following.  There will be some delicious baked goods for the volunteers, as well as hot drinks.

    Each participant in the “Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up” contributes their time because they realize just how important their efforts are to this impressive Mountain of the Cascades.  They will receive a “Certificate of Appreciation” for their assistance in cleaning-up Mount Hood's natural landscape.

    For the eight-day effort, the Cascade Geographic Society will have dumpsters placed at the corner of U.S. Highway 26 & East Miller Road, which is located approximately one-half mile west of Mt. Hood Village.  As much as possible, the trash collected will be recycled.

    This Eleventh Annual “Mount Hood Public Lands Clean-Up” should prove to be the best clean-up effort ever, as mountains and mountains of trash vanish from the natural landscape.  It's a positive way of giving back to a Mountain that gives so much to so many people, but asks for nothing in return but respect.