Local volunteers get new year off to good start

Scott Swanson

I enjoy running and over the years I’ve lived in Sweet Home. I’ve put in literally thousands of miles on our local roads.

Not only is it good exercise for me, and a lot of fun for my dogs (as they try not to drag me down the road), but it’s a good way to keep tabs on what’s going on in the community.

Well, maybe not all good.

One thing that’s really noticeable when I’m on foot is the amount of trash along most of the rural roads around Sweet Home. I’m talking cans, paper cups, fast food wrappers. It’s everywhere, but when you’re rolling along at 45 mph-plus in a car, it’s kind of hard to see, which is why I don’t think we are really as aware of it as we should be.

But it’s a problem, and I’ve often thought, as I’ve loped along the shoulders of rural roads, about doing something about it. But I haven’t – yet.

That’s why I’ve been really impressed by a group of intrepid local folks who’ve decided they’ve had enough. They call themselves a number of names, Cleaner Greener Oregon for one, on social media.

You can get a glimpse of their handiwork on page 1 of this issue. About a month ago, they had 40-plus folks show up for an inaugural trash collection event in the Yellowbottom area on Quartzville Road. That went so well that, a couple of days before the new year, I heard from one of their members that they were going to take on Marks Ridge – on New Year’s Day.

Impressive.

I ended up fighting one of those bugs that’ve been going around, so I didn’t get up there, but I was rooting for them. I like what these people are doing. They pulled over two tons of garbage off of Marks Ridge Drive, including 86 tires.

Wow.

Let’s do that math: Marks Ridge is what, five miles long? And these folks only did one section of it. From that portion they pulled that much garbage out of the ditches and the bushes: 4,380 pounds; nearly 100 tires.

I actually haven’t run Marks Ridge too often – it’s pretty demanding just getting up there. But I have run Ames Creek, North River, Old Holley, Rowell Hill, Fern Ridge, Pleasant Valley, Highway 20 many times. You’d be surprised what you can see out there. It’s not all daisies.

Some areas are worse than others. Some are, frankly, embarrassing.

It’s kind of sickening to be running along and come upon a washing machine rusting away in the bushes. Or some old tires that someone just threw over the embankment, onto somebody else’s property.

What this means is someone is inconsiderate enough that they’d rather throw their hamburger wrapper out the window than leave it on the floor of their truck until they get home and can dispose of it responsibly. I realize that accidents happen – I’ve had stuff fly out my window – but a lot of that trash is there because somebody didn’t want to deal with it.

When we get to the big stuff – couches, those tires, refrigerators, well that takes a really intentional effort. And one that’s inconsiderate to both the property owner and everybody else who has to deal with it.

I don’t know if that bothers you, but it does me. But picking it up is more rewarding than waiting for someone else to deal with it.

I’ve actually considered bringing along a garbage bag to pick up trash as I’m running along one of those country roads, but with a couple of dogs on leash and the fact that it’s really unwieldy to run with a large trash bag in hand, I have yet to follow through with that.

So that’s why I really appreciate these folks’ initiative.

Sweet Home is a beautiful place, and they’ve started off the new year with a big effort to keep it that way.

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