By Andrea Barkan
Pilot staff writer
The stormy shore at Harris Beach State Park would've surely been deserted Saturday if not for a determined group of participants in the 20th annual Great Oregon Spring Beach Clean Up.
Wind-blown, rain-soaked volunteers clutched green and white plastic SOLV bags, bending frequently to pick up bits of trash strewn along the sandy stretch. Perhaps an urge to stay under the covers blew into Brookings with the storm Saturday morning most of the hardy beach cleaners were from out of town.
Angela Stewart, interpretive ranger at Harris Beach, estimated 80 percent of Saturday's 49 participants were not local.
"Most of our people came from out of the area, which is amazing to me," Stewart said.
John Michael drove from Ashland to clean a Brookings beach. He participates in SOLV's spring and fall cleanups whenever he can.
"My wife thinks I'm crazy drive three hours here and three hours back to pick up trash," Michael said, smiling as rain drops rolled down his face.
Michael welcomed the wet stuff, calling it "Oregon sunshine."
If other beach-cleaners minded the weather, they didn't show it.
Teens from the Boys and Girls Club in White City and Grants Pass teamed up with teens from the YMCA Youth Against Drugs Program in White City to clean up the coast.
Gary Taylor, YMCA Youth Against Drugs director, fashioned ponchos from black garbage bags for the group. Outfitted in their make-shift rain gear, the 15 teens happily hit Harris Beach.
Danielle Ford, teen coordinator for Boys and Girls Club, suggested the beach cleanup to the youth, and partnered with Taylor once they gave it the thumbs up.
"We're trying to get into community service, teaching kids why it's important to get involved in the community," Ford said.
Taylor said the group planned to stay overnight in the Harris Beach campground.
"It's just a way we can do community service and at the same time they can come to the beach, go camping," Taylor said.
Stewart said volunteers collected 380 pounds of garbage from McVay, Sporthaven, Mill, Harris, Lone Ranch and Whaleshead beaches.
SOLV officials coordinated the beach cleanup with Oregon State Parks and other local and state sponsors.
According to SOLV Executive Director Jack McGowan, more than 4,100 volunteers cleaned up the entire Oregon coast Saturday more than 362 miles.
Volunteers removed an estimated 29 total tons of trash from Oregon's coastline, McGowan said.
Interesting items discovered on beaches included a washing machine, a gas tank, a console television, a burned couch, two hot water heaters, four mattresses, more than 100 tires and large quantities of fishing net and rope, McGowan said.