Within the Rogue Valley, the environmental community is quite close-knit and often eager to partner on projects. A recent example of this collaboration is shown through the success of the Baker Park Floodplain Clean-Up event that occurred on Saturday, August 5th, 2023 from 8:30 AM to 10:45 AM (originally scheduled until 12:30 PM). Each partner organization, including Angels from the Community for the Community (Angels), the City of Grants Pass, Hellgate Jetboat Excursions (Hellgate), the Josephine County Solid Waste Agency (JoCo SWA), Strauss Ecological Services (SES), Stream Smart: A Rogue Basin Clean Water Project (Stream Smart), Team Rubicon, Water League, and White City Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as nearby residents and interested volunteers, was critical in accomplishing the hard work required along the floodplain.
Back in March of 2022, Kyle Strauss of Strauss Ecological Services informed Stream Smart of the opportunity to clean up the floodplain upstream of Baker Park. At the time, Stream Smart didn’t have the capacity, nor the close working relationships with Josephine County-based organizations, to tackle this level of a clean-up. However, after a year and a half of pursuing projects based in Grants Pass and along the Rogue River near Whitehorse County Park and beyond, Stream Smart built up the capacity to host the Baker Park Floodplain Clean-Up.
During the clean-up event, approximately 25 volunteers removed 20 cubic yards of trash from the floodplain just upstream of the Baker Park boat launch. Rather than hauling the trash from the floodplain uphill to the Grants Pass Public Safety Center parking lot, Hellgate offered the use of a work boat and two boat captains to ferry the trash down to the Baker Park boat launch where a dumpster awaited their arrival. Volunteers from the above organizations moved the trash from the work boat to the dumpster, hopped back in the boat, and went back upstream to the floodplain to continue the work.
One of the organizations, Angels, recruited volunteers from the unsheltered community living in and around Baker Park to participate in the effort. These volunteers helped move trash from the work boat and cleaned up trash and debris from Baker Park. Additionally, the lead coordinator for Angels went out to the floodplain on the Friday before the event to provide outreach to folks living in the area to let them know that the site would be the focus of a clean-up effort the following day. Angels host many events that engage and help the unsheltered community, and we look forward to future events with this group.
The City of Grants Pass was instrumental in ensuring that the floodplain was safe for volunteers to work within for the Saturday event. City staff were able to coordinate with Grants Pass Public Safety officers to do a quick sweep of the area early Saturday morning. This area had recently been impacted by a human-caused small-scale fire, and HAZMAT had also been witnessed within the floodplain. Additionally, the City of Grants Pass and the JoCo SWA provided the funds to pay for the use of a 20 cubic yard dumpster and the associated disposal fees.
The majority of volunteers came from Angels and the White City VA, with support from Water League’s Executive Director and Board Members, followed by members of the nearby homeowners association (HOA), Team Rubicon, and a handful of Grants Pass residents. Kyle Strauss also participated as a volunteer, leading the efforts out on the floodplain. The old adage, “it takes a village” is absolutely accurate, as this hard work could not have been accomplished in such a short amount of time without the great group of volunteers that showed up.
Stream Smart anticipates hosting more events within Grants Pass and Josephine County, including the annual Rogue River Clean-Up & Let’s Pull Together! event in May, various invasive weed pulls, plantings, and trash clean-ups within the City and County parks, Salmon Watch field days, and other events as needed.