By Josh Bronson
Pilot staff writer
What do a road construction cone, cutoff jean shorts, a tea kettle, flip flops and a half inflated kayak have in common?
They were all items picked up and hauled in by volunteers during the eighth annual Chetco Check Up Wednesday afternoon.
Overcast skies, a constant breeze and brief showers met 17 volunteers as they split up to pick up trash and take temperatures along the river.
"This is our river and we don't share it with any other community," event organizer Gerry Livingston said. "So it's our responsibility to maintain it and take care of it. It's a wonderful place."
Some volunteers took to the river banks and bars on foot and searched for trash and debris in some of the more populated areas like South Fork and Nook Bar.
Commonly collected items included beer cans and bottles and other beverage containers as well as miscellaneous clothing items.
Abandoned campfires and campsites seemed to contain the most garbage, but randomly-scattered items were also corralled.
Other teams floated the river in kayaks, as far up as Low Water Bridge, looking for trash in more obscure areas along the bank as well as picking up floating (or submerged) trash in the river.
About 18 bags of trash, along with larger items, such as a shovel and an old truck seat, were collected by the band of volunteers.
The two-man kayak teams also took water temperatures at various deep pools along the Chetco.
In previous years, the water temperatures have run an average of about 72 degrees.
This year, however, temperatures throughout the river were a few degrees cooler than usual.
Several factors could contribute to the cooler temperatures such as cloud cover or time of day the temperature was taken.
"We're also doing the event two weeks earlier than we usually do," Livingston said.
The temperatures taken by volunteers vary because of many factors.
Scientific samples on the Chetco are taken from long-term thermometers that register the highest peak temperature for the day, according to Water Quality Program Leader at the South Coast Watershed Council, Cindy Myers.
In past years, scientific readings of the Chetco have ranged in average temperatures from 73 to 78 degrees at various points of the river.
"There has been a lot of interest in the temperatures of the Chetco because it's on a water-quality impaired list for the state," Myers said. "That means that the temperatures are above optimum for the rearing of younger fish, which means they may have to find a different place to grow."
After a long afternoon of picking up trash and taking temperatures, volunteers were treated to a picnic dinner for their efforts.
The Slam'n Salmon Derby helped out with the effort via a grant to the Chetco Check Up, which helped organizers purchase food for the picnic as well as rent kayaks and other needed equipment for the event.