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Volunteers Called to Help Clean Up Oregon Coast Beaches


Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.


Secrets of the Season

Volunteers Called to Help Clean Up Oregon Coast Beaches

Bob Straub State Wayside, Pacific City

(Oregon Coast) - For 23 years, Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism (SOLV) has been holding twice-yearly clean ups of Oregon beaches, snagging thousands to help pick up garbage along 364 miles of pristine coastline – in an effort to keep it that way.

Another one is coming up. The 23rd annual SOLV Great Oregon Fall Beach Cleanup will take place on September 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and SOLV is asking Oregonians from every corner of the state to join in this nationally recognized cleanup. Thousands of volunteers are needed to participate at 42 sites up and down the Oregon coast. To participate, simply check in, pick up a litterbag, and head down to the beach to help spruce up the coast for wildlife, visitors and all Oregonians.

Newport beach expert Guy DiTorrice has been a part of these clean ups even before SOLV held them. While living in Eugene over 25 years ago, he was part of clean up efforts in Florence put together by divers from Eugene.

Ten Mile Creek beach access, on the south central coast

oregon coast lighthouses on dvd

He eventually became SOLV's Lincoln County Liaison after moving to the area in the 90’s. He urged others to join in the scouring.

“The twice-yearly beach clean ups provide a special focused day for folks to come to the coast and help pick-up the flotsam and jetsam from other folks and the sea,” DiTorrice said.

SOLV has been a front-runner in the clean beach movement that began in 1984. Since then, SOLV has worked to collect over 1,000 tons of trash with the help of nearly 175,000 dedicated volunteers. With every foot of Oregon’s beautiful 364-mile coastline being scoured, SOLV is hopeful for another record-setting event.

Major chunk of something strange found on a Manzanita beach recently

“Marine debris takes a heavy toll on the environment, wildlife and even the local economy,” said Jack McGowan, SOLV Executive director. “We hope everyone who enjoys the beach’s splendor takes their environmental duty seriously and joins us in this great event.”

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After so many years of involvement, DiTorrice has seen the finds change.

“The most interesting thing in the past 25 years is seeing the changes in what you find out there,” DiTorrice said. “Years ago it was empty cans of chewing tobacco floating out of the surf, changing to plastic water bottles. That’s probably the largest volume of items found on the beaches I scour.”

SOLV volunteers on the beach

Fun finds are plastic toys, DiTorrice said. “From little tractor trucks to sand pails and plastic shovels. Shoes and all varieties - but never in pairs - occasionally dot the beach.”

DiTorrice said there’s less and less fishing line over the last few years. But more “whale burps” or “beach balls” are being found. These occur naturally, and are made of compressed grass and other floating debris – often so compact they are impossible to break and hard as bricks.

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“Some locals make fun of visitors by calling these items ‘whale snot,’ “ DiTorrice said. “Which it isn't.”

He’s also noticed quite a bit of trimmed and debarked wooden trees showing up on the beaches this year. “It looks like a boat might of dumped a load of future poles offshore,” DiTorrice said. “Many locals have been dragging them off the beach and cutting them up.”

DiTorrice digging into beach fossils

Interesting finds aside, there are some depressing trends. “At a time when less and less picnic debris is being left on the beach, there are more and more rolled up disposable diapers,” DiTorrice said. “Not exactly the best examples to be setting by parents with young children.”

The SOLV beach clean ups are often like one big party on the beach – but with the purpose being to clean things up and not leave anything behind. There’s often an atmosphere of camaraderie and frivolity.

This lead to one unforgettable SOLV picnic a few years ago, where Portland General Electric hosted a beach clean-up/employee picnic at Gleneden Beach State Park, on the central coast.

Pristine beaches of Waldport

“Along with great food and a big crowd, one of the employees hid a written wedding proposal and ring in a bottle that he managed to have his girlfriend find while they were gathering trash.” he said. “Last I heard they got hitched.”

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DiTorrice is also known as “Oregon Fossil Guy,” giving tours of central coast beaches and showing people where to find fossils just lying around or embedded in the rocks. He often utilizes this opportunity to continue the work of SOLV year round.

He encourages others to not just be vigilant about leaving only footprints when you head to the beaches, but suggests they too take a little extra care as he does.

“Of course, along with taking my rake and bucket to collect rocks and fossils throughout the year, there's always a handful of SOLV bags for picking up when items appear,” DiTorrice said. “While the twice-annual beach clean up is great - and hundreds of tons of stuff gets hauled off - it's always nice to be doing that ongoing landscape maintenance of the beach.”

Groups of 20 or more are asked to register in advance. Visit www.solv.org or call SOLV at 503-844-9571 or toll free in Oregon, 1-800-333-SOLV for a list of registration sites. SOLV suggests volunteers bring gloves, wear sturdy shoes, and be safe while having a fun time removing marine debris and litter.

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