By Zac Mallon, Coordinator, Lower Nehalem Watershed Council
Wheeler, Oregon – Wow! On Saturday, March 9th, more than a 170 volunteers showed up bright and early for the 11th Biennial Nehalem Estuary Cleanup. Volunteers from the community and beyond pitched in by cleaning debris from the mud and high tide line, sorting through trash and recyclables, helping with set-up and take down, working morning registration, and hosting the celebration dinner.

The amazing contributions from the community and the amount of debris removed show how much this event means locally. Participants pulled nearly two tons of trash, 10 tires, and an assortment of recyclables from Nehalem Bay. Some other notable items included a plastic playground slide, half a canoe, several hundred shotgun shells, 4 chairs, 32 assorted balls, 2 refrigerators, 1 fluorescent light bulb, 5 plastic joint containers, 4 tree protectors, an old boat, and one volunteer walked away with a matching pair of sandals just in time for summer!

Volunteers remove pieces of a destroyed boat during the Biennial Nehalem Estuary Cleanup, March 9, 2019. Photo by John Morris

Debris collected from around the Nehalem Estuary are unloaded from boats by volunteers at the Wheeler City Docks. Photo by Jessi Just

This year’s clean-up removed less total volume from the Estuary than in 2017. Lower Nehalem Watershed Council Coordinator Zac Mallon says “We had less total trash this year than in 2017. This could because less was thrown into the river, less got held up in the estuary, or maybe it was just hiding really well. It’s hard to say but hopefully this trend will continue into 2021!”
The 2019 Clean-Up Celebration at the White Clover Grange also featured the first “Art in the Watershed” display with art by students from Nehalem Elementary School. These students were given a prompt to illustrate what they valued about the watershed. The winners were on display at Manzanita News and Espresso throughout the month of March and will now be used to for T-shirts for the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council. Thank you to the Art Parents of Nehalem Elementary School and to Lower Nehalem Watershed Council Board Member Will Russell for bringing watershed science into the classrooms.
Community partners Lower Nehalem Watershed Council, Lower Nehalem Community Trust, Nehalem Bay State Park, North Coast Land Conservancy, and Tillamook Estuary Partnership are incredibly thankful to the outpouring of support from volunteers, local business, and community members. The success of this event wouldn’t be possible without the dedication, commitment, and hard work of so many. We owe each and every one of them our appreciation for helping to make the Nehalem estuary a clean and healthy place for wildlife and people.
We are especially thankful to our wonderful cash sponsors and in-kind donors: They are, in alphabetical order, B Good Bars, Bill’s Tavern, Bob and Charlotte Forster, City of Nehalem, City of Wheeler, Fort George Brewery, Handy Creek Bakery, Kingfisher Farm, Lewis and Clark Timberlands, Little Apple Manzanita Market, Manzanita Beach Getaways, Manzanita Fresh Foods, Manzanita News and Espresso, Mother Nature’s Natural Foods, Nehalem Landing, North Coast Land Conservancy, North Fork 53 CommuniTea, Oregon State Parks, Port of Nehalem, Recology, Salmonberry Saloon, Sister And Pete’s Coffees and Treats, SOLVE, Tillamook County Solid Waste, Tillamook Estuaries Partnership, Wanda’s Café, Weyerhaeuser Columbia Timberlands, and Yolk.
We’re proud to say that this year’s Nehalem Estuary Cleanup was another expression of this community’s dedication to the estuary. With another event in the books, we look forward to partnering with you all again in 2021!