Stash the Trash Clackamas

Free Stash the Trash bags for recreational users on the Clackamas River

Clackamas River Basin Council reminds river recreation users to please stash their trash. Every summer, the Clackamas River Basin Council brings out their free reusable bags and stocks them on bags stands at popular recreation sites along the Clackamas River. This year, the bags have a new eye-catching color, bright sunny yellow.

The Clackamas River is one of most easily accessible rivers in the Portland Metro Area, making it an increasingly popular destination floating, boating, fishing, swimming, or picnicking. The warm summer weather expected this holiday will likely bring hundreds of river recreationists to the shores of the Clackamas River. But the rise in recreation brings an unfortunate side effect: trash, loads of it.

To address the rising trash found in the Clackamas River, the Clackamas River Basin Council initiated the Stash the Trash program in 2006 to provide reusable litter bags to help people be the solutionto the increase in litter. Each year, in partnership with Clackamas County and Oregon State Parks, the Clackamas River Basin Council distributes approximately 6,000 Stash the Trash bags between Memorial Day and Labor Day to Milo McIver State Park, Barton County Park, Barton Convenience Store, Carver Boat Ramp, and Riverside Park. Bag stands can also be found at 5 stands accessible only by boat or tube. New this year is a bag stand at Cross Park in partnership with the City of Gladstone.

The Clackamas River Basin Council partners with We Love Clean Rivers to keep an eye on the levels of trash found in the river year round. After several spring and early summer 2022 river floats, the amount of visible trash in the river is low overall. After recreation season, however, it will be a different story. The Clackamas River Basin Council and We Love Clean Rivers organize the annual Down the River Cleanup after recreation season, with this year’s event taking place September 11, 2022. The cleanup has drawn hundreds of volunteers and removed nearly 42 tons of trash from the river since 2004.

“Our goal for the Stash the Trash program is to prevent garbage from entering the water in the first place,” says Amy Barton, Communications and Stewardship Manager at the Clackamas River Basin Council. “These yellow bags serve as a reminder to river users to not only be more aware of their trash and waste, but to actively take part by picking up after themselves and even others.”

This work is amplified by volunteer river users such as Tina Johnson, who with a group of friends replenish bags weekly and collect trash along river banks and around stands. These volunteers float the river every week during summer months, collecting trash and litter, and reducing the impact of recreation.

Why do volunteers step up to make a difference? In Tina’s own words, “the Clackamas River is so beautiful and close to where we live. Thousands of people use it, and I would like them to have the best experience possible.” Through the We Love Clean Rivers’ River Ambassador Program, Tina also staffs a table at Barton Park where she encourages recreational users to grab a Stash the Trash bag before they hit the water.

Aside from being a drinking water source for 300,000 Oregonians, the Clackamas River is home to a diverse array of wildlife including several species of threatened and endangered fish species. Trash in the river threatens fish and wildlife, drinking water quality, and the river’s scenic beauty.

Stash the Trash is funded by Clackamas River Water Providers, Clackamas County Parks, Clackamas County Sustainability & Solid Waste Program, Warn Industries, Dump Stoppers, Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District, Oregon State Parks, We Love Clean Rivers, Water Environment Services, Bottle Drop and the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative.

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