Dwayne Rogers of CARTM tops off debris load. photo by John Morris

by Alix Lee, Lower Nehalem Watershed Council Coordinator

Wheeler, Oregon – The results are in! On Saturday, March 11th, more than 170 volunteers lent a hand during the 10th Biennial Nehalem Estuary Cleanup. Volunteer duties ranged from removing debris from the mud and high tide line, sorting through trash and recyclables, helping with set-up and take down, and throwing the celebration dinner.

The success of the event is evidenced by the outpouring of support and the amount of debris removed from the estuary. Participants pulled 2.66 tons of trash, 1,369 lbs. of recyclable and reusable material, and 60 lbs. of hazardous/potentially hazardous materials from Nehalem Bay – totaling 3.37 tons of debris removed. Items included 44 tires, 284 shotgun shells, 22 shoes (including 1 pair), 1 kitchen faucet, 29 balls, 7 55 gallon drums, half a Jeep grill, 1 BB gun, and for the second event in a row – a genuine message in a bottle! The note inside was from a 6 year old in Hillsboro who loves Minecraft, Legos, and Nerf Guns.

Community partners Lower Nehalem Community Trust, Lower Nehalem Watershed Council, CARTM, Nehalem Bay State Park, North Coast Land Conservancy, and Tillamook Estuaries 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 sponsors and in-kind donors: Hans Tonjes – Real Estate Broker, Visit Tillamook Coast, San Dune Pub, Manzanita Beach Getaway, US Bank, Patty Schlip, Nehalem Bay Winery, Robert & Charlotte Forster, City of Nehalem, Port of Nehalem, Tillamook Estuaries Partnership, Weyerhaeuser Columbia Timberlands, Economic Development Council of Tillamook County, Recology Western Oregon, The Little Apple, The Roost, Tillamook Les Schwab, Wheeler Liquor Store, Monica Gianopulos, Handy Creek Bakery, Wheeler Masons, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Tillamook County Solid Waste, Jon Broderick, Jay Speakman, Michael Corry, SOLVE, Bill’s Tavern, Wheeler Marina, North County Recreation District, Bread and Ocean, City of Wheeler, Fred Meyer, Jetty Fishery, Kingfisher Farms, Manzanita Fresh Foods, Manzanita News and Espresso, Mohler Co-op, and Mother Nature’s.

In recognition of the community support and dedication of hundreds of volunteers over the years who participated in the Biennial Nehalem Estuary Cleanups, Governor Kate Brown proclaimed March 11th, 2017 to be Estuary Cleanup and Awareness Day. The proclamation encouraged all Oregonians to celebrate the importance of Oregon’s estuaries and the work being done to protect and maintain this critical habitat.

The Biennial Nehalem Estuary Cleanup has had a long history of success, community involvement and tradition. It has been the pleasure of each community partner to continue such a legacy, building upon the countless hours of dedication and work that has gone into past events. We look forward to the next cleanup event in 2019!

10th Biennial Nehalem Estuary Cleanup March 11, 2017

Results are in…by the numbers


Over 170 volunteers (a new record!) dedicated their time, skills, and energy for the 10th Biennial Cleanup! This included volunteers our in the muck and rain retrieving debris, sorting through trash and recyclables, transport volunteers and materials, helping with  set-up and registration, planning and coordination, food prep, and throwing a successful celebration dinner!

Hard Numbers

2.66 tons of trash (5320 lbs.) – an entire 20 yard dumpster full

1,369 lbs. of recyclable and reusable material

60 lbs. of hazardous/potentially hazardous material

Interesting Finds

  • 44 tires
  • 284 shotgun shells
  • Half a leopard print bra
  • 63 flip flops
  • 22 shoes, including 1 pair
  • 1 kitchen faucet
  • 1 air horn still in the package
  • 1 blowtorch
  • 1 toilet seat, 1 toilet cover and 1 toilet brush
  • 1 port-a-potty door
  • 29 balls
  • 1 remote control
  • 1 boom box
  • 3 stuffed animals
  • 3 fluorescent tubes
  • 15 railroad spikes
  • 7- 55 gallon drums
  • 1 Port of Nehalem Buoy
  • Half a Jeep grill
  • 1 set of turn signal lights + 1 side mirror, 1 headlight assembly
  • 1 super soaker
  • 1 skillet, 1 spoon, 1 knife
  • 1 arrow
  • 1 BB Gun

– and –

  • 1 message in a bottle! For the second event in a row, volunteers pulled a genuine message in a bottle from the Estuary. The note inside was from a 6 year old in Hillsboro who loves Minecraft, Legos, and Nerf Guns.