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Volunteers clean up Deschutes River in Bend

By Kandra Kent
Published On: Jul 11 2013 09:06:10 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's went along Thursday to the 'Stream Stewardship Day.'

BEND, Ore. -

From the bottom of the river and the edges of the water, to the bag.

On Thursday, the Deschutes River got a little cleaner. About 65 filled, large lawn bags cleaner, to be exact.

"There's been such an increase in use of the river, which unfortunately has led to an increase of the amount of garbage," said Upper Deschutes Watershed Council Education Director Kolleen Yake, as the council held its annual Stream Stewardship Day.

About 75 volunteers and 15 divers combed the stretch of river from Farewell Bend Park to the Old Mill.

"You can really come out and make a difference that you can see immediately," said Wendy Edde, the city's stormwater program manager.  "It's got benefits not just to the river, but to everyone who comes here and enjoys it."

"I thought it would be a great way to spend my birthday," said new Bend resident Kayla Bowcutt.  "I wanted to do something to get involved with the community."

They were helping with a problem that's growing nationwide.

A federal report released Thursday found four out of five urban rivers are unhealthy.

But Yake says overall, the Deschutes is doing well.

"We don't have a high amount of toxins in the river. Really, the greatest water quality problem facing the Deschutes river is stream temperature," Yake said.

In the summer, water temperatures get too warm in some areas and can kill fish and other aquatic creatures.

Because water is diverted in the spring and summer for irrigation along the upper Deschutes, the middle Deschutes suffers, becoming more shallow and heating up.

The council is helping to keep the water cooler. The organization has planted shrubs and other vegetation along the Deschutes to shade the water.

Another problem in the winter is that water is sucked out of the Deschutes and stored for the summer agricultural season.

"It's more just a water quantity problem, which leads to less habitat for fish," Yake said.

She said water problems can't be solved overnight, but even cleaning up garbage is a step in the right direction.

For more information: http://www.restorethedeschutes.org/

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