In 30 years of cleaning up the Rogue River, Rogue Sportsmen’s and Guides Association (RSGA) members and volunteers have pulled tons of garbage from the waters.
This year was no exception, as members manned boats, taking volunteers down the river to pick up obvious eye-sores from streambank areas and from the stream’s depths. Approximately 70-80 volunteers gathered at Riverside Park in Shady Cove in the early hours of Aug. 4, then took to the river in 19 boats and rafts in search of litter.
Each of the guides piloted boats while volunteers combed the shore
line. Armed with "garbage grabbers" they cleaned 23 miles of river
bank of such items as cans, bottles, fishing tackle, fence posts, tires
and miles of monofilament fishing line. Divers encountered much of the
same, but far more snarls of fishing line, hooks and sinkers. Divers
tend to work in certain "holes" because fishing is good there, but the
first snag on the bottom begins a nasty cycle of tackle collection.
Fishermen tend to fish close to the river’s bottom, and three-ways,
with the weight banging on the rocks seems always to be the thing to
snag first. Once started, they become like a "black hole" in space
where nothing can escape. Each boat that then passes adds to the
collection until the river becomes choked with fishing line.
the biggest problem, according to divers is not what fishermen leave on
the bottom, but items left by inconsiderate rafters. Because they
don’t want to deal with empty cans and bottles, they are simply tossed
overboard. Such items don’t disintegrate in the waters, but become
hazards for swimmers, boaters and for the fish themselves. RSGA
encourages users of the river to respect others and the river by
properly disposing of empty beverage cans and bottles.
year’s cleanup netted a 55-gal. drum that had completely rusted
through. It was filled with some unknown type of liquid, perhaps river
water, but perhaps something more harmful to both fish and humans.
There were also tires, steel T-posts and construction rebar in the
collection dumpster at day’s end. In the past, divers have pulled up
microwave ovens, countertops and even lawnmowers and other kitchen
Several organizations participated in this
year’s event, among them was Outback Steakhouse, the Greater Shady Cove
Boosters club, the Upper Rogue Watershed Association, PremierWest Bank,
citizens of the City of Shady Cove and Rogue Scuba. Outback Steakhouse
provided the chicken, ribs and steak for the lunch BBQ, even going so
far as to offer complimentary dinners to the divers because they
weren’t able to return to the park while lunch was being served.
entire effort was spearheaded by the RSGA, in an effort to call
attention to what they would call "unequal" treatment for litterers.
Rick Mori of RSGA pointed out that highway signs call attention to a
$1,000 fine for littering highways, but boaters and other river users
merely get a citation with no monetary penalty for tossing trash into
the rivers of the state. RSGA has been working with the legislature to
put some "teeth" into the anti-littering provisions of the state’s
Mori said RSGA was well pleased with a "larger
than expected" turnout for the river cleanup. He said that one couple
from Ashland even went so far as to bring their own boat and took other
volunteers down the river.
A positive note is that the
dumpster wasn’t filled this year, perhaps because past efforts have
been paying off. RSGA will continue next summer with another river
cleanup day in the hopes that all will respect the valuable resource
the river represents.
By Ralph McKechnie
Of the Independent