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Spring cleaning for the Bear Creek Greenway

Volunteers have their pick of nine locations to help during Bear Creek Stewardship Day this Saturday. Check-in starts at 8:30 a.m.

“The clean-up event goes from 9 a.m. to noon. We’re not asking everybody to stay for that full three hours. We’ll take any amount of time that they’re willing to contribute,” said Craig Tuss, project coordinator for the Rogue Valley Council of Governments.

People should show up wearing closed-toe shoes and dressed for whatever weather Saturday brings. Organizers will provide gloves, trash grabbers, garbage bags and snacks. Participants must be at least 8 years old, with kids accompanied by an adult.

Semi-annual greenway clean-up days are typically held in April and September. High water during the winter tends to flush garbage into Bear Creek, where it gets hung up on trees or sinks into the water. Spring is the ideal time to spruce up the greenway after winter downpours.

“Since 2015, we have removed over 27,000 pounds of trash — anything from beer cans to plastic straws to bicycle tires to shopping carts,” Tuss said.

If the garbage hadn’t been cleaned up, it would have continued to pollute the creek area and could have made its way downstream to the Rogue River or even the ocean, he said.

“By cleaning up here locally, we’re actually helping water quality issues. We’re helping keep trash out of the streams. We’re making it better for the fish and wildlife that use the stream. And besides, it makes the area look better,” Tuss said.

Volunteers won’t be asked to clean up any homeless camps along the greenway, he said.

Organizers expect at least 200 people will converge for the event. Businesses, Girl and Boy Scouts and congregations are among the groups that have signed up, but individuals and families are welcome, too.

Volunteers are encouraged to register for the event in advance at bearcreekstewards.org, but anyone is welcome to stop by the check-in locations. More information and maps of the meeting locations are available on the website.

The clean-up event has grown from a single location to nine areas encompassing all the cities along the greenway, a multi-use path for walkers, bicyclists and joggers.

Participants will range along the greenway, then return to their check-in locations to drop off the trash they’ve found and bring back borrowed gloves and tools.

In Central Point, the meeting spot is at the intersection of Pine Street and Peninger Road.

Medford locations are Hawthorne Park at 501 E. Main St., McAndrews Road near the greenway, Alba Drive near the greenway and Barnett Road, and the Coyote Trails Nature Center off Lowry Lane near U.S. Cellular Community Park.

Phoenix area residents can check in at Blue Heron Park, 4385 Pacific Highway, while Talent will host volunteers at Lynn Newbry Park off West Valley View Road near I-5.

Ashland locations are near the intersection of Highway 99 and Valley View Road, and Ashland Creek Park at 27 E. Hersey Street. Volunteers will focus on removing invasive blackberry bushes at Ashland Creek Park.

The event is sponsored by SOLVE, a state clean-up organization, plus local sponsors Food 4 Less, the Grange Co-op, Trader Joe’s, Dutch Bros. Coffee, Rogue Credit Union and REI.

Groups that helped organize volunteers for the event include the Gordon Elwood Foundation, Medford Food Co-op, Ashland Food Co-op, Starbucks Coffee, Southern Oregon Geocaching, the Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District, RVCOG and the cities of Ashland, Talent, Phoenix and Medford.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

Trash and clothing are snagged on branches along Bear Creek and the Bear Creek Greenway as they pass through Medford.{ } Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune