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Bear Creek cleanup targets winter debris

A short stretch of Bear Creek upstream of the McAndrews Road bridge is where Medford shopping carts go to die.

Volunteers during a cleanup effort last spring targeted the most urban stretch of this troubled creek and found more than two dozen shopping carts that settled in the creek bed over the previous winter.

"Most of those shopping carts came out of that one area," says Craig Tuss of the Rogue Valley Council of Governments. "More than 20 came out of that one area. I don't know why they seem to accumulate there."

The cleanup effort will return April 23 when a consortium of local businesses and volunteers descend on the stretch of Bear Creek between Barnett and McAndrews roads to cleanse the bed and banks.

Volunteers can sign up through Sunday at www.bearcreekstewards.org to get assigned to one of two staging areas for the cleanup: at the southeast corner of the Rogue Valley Mall parking lot off McAndrews and at the Medford Little League fields on Alba Drive off Barnett Road.

The cleanup, which is organized in association with other Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism efforts statewide, runs from 9 a.m. to noon, with a lunch for volunteers from noon to 1 p.m. at Hawthorne Park.

The Earth Day project is organized by the Gordon Elwood Foundation and RVCOG, with the city of Medford and several local businesses involved, says Kathy Bryon, the foundation's executive director.

Last year's cleanup pulled about 1.5 tons of garbage and debris from the creek, "and that's not counting the shopping carts," Tuss says.

This stretch of Bear Creek is one of the worst water-quality streams in Oregon, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality, and it has garnered increased attention in recent years.

Groups like Oregon Stewardship have employed teen volunteers to rid creek banks of Himalayan blackberries and plant native trees and shrubs to reduce erosion and increase shade.

The spring cleanup is a way to expand those efforts to more members of the public, Tuss says. "It's a good way to get people invested in the area," he says.

Rogue FlyFishers to meet

The art of the artificial fly will be at center stage Wednesday when the Rogue FlyFishers Association holds its annual fly-tyers night.

Members of the Southern Oregon Fly Tyers will tie their patterns and share their secrets during the meeting, which begins at 5:45 p.m. with a wet-fly hour and dinner at 6:45.

The meeting is in the upstairs room at The Point Pub and Grill, 311 E. Pine St., Central Point.

The Southern Oregon Fly Tyers includes Rogue Valley tyers as well as people from Northern California and Roseburg. They are men and women with a wide array of skills, ranging from hobbyists to commercial tyers willing to share their art.

For more information about the club, see www.rogueflyfishers.org.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.