With Mount Hood as a backdrop and planes roaring overhead as they departed from Portland International Airport, about 45 volunteers gathered at Broughton Beach on Tuesday to pick up litter, clear sand from access ramps, and gather branches and materials for the elephants at the Oregon Zoo to eat.
Metro partnered with SOLVE Oregon, Widmer Brothers Brewing and the Portland Trail Blazers for an afternoon of "Service, Sports & Suds." Employees from each organization and their families volunteered to help clean up different areas of the beachfront.
The volunteers – including Blaze, the Blazers mascot – removed 30 pounds of micro trash, including over 300 cigarette butts that will be recycled, and cleared 3 cubic yards of invasive Himalayan blackberry, which will be fed to the elephants at the Oregon Zoo.
Metro is dedicated to keeping parks and nature facilities clean and beautiful, and involving the community in their maintenance is a great way to encourage people to care about the region’s natural spaces, said Lupine DeSnyder, the Metro parks and nature department’s volunteer coordinator.
"We really hope to act as a place for people to come together either to volunteer or enjoy nature,” she said. “Volunteering is a way to connect with nature through your place of employment or just through volunteering with your family. Coming out to different sites allows you the chance to see them, while also doing good."
Additionally, a small team made up mostly of Widmer employees shoveled and swept about two feet of sand from an access ramp that's compliant with the Americans with Disability Act. Volunteers then hauled large rocks from a nearby rock pile to make a barrier, so that the sand wouldn’t blow back up onto the ramp. The work ensures that people using strollers and mobility devices will continue to enjoy safe access. Another team trimmed overgrown grass and brush from an adjacent walkway.
Widmer’s senior director of operations and engineering Kris Scholl was one of the volunteers helping clear the pathway. “The company is not only focused on the environment, saving utilities in the breweries, but also giving back to the community through service,” he said. “It's part of who we are, and we really appreciate all the support the community gives us. This is just a small way that we can give back, and also have some fun and enjoy some beers."
This is the first time that SOLVE has brought this event to a Metro destination, though SOLVE Oregon has partnered with Metro on other volunteer events.
Quintin Bauer, program director of SOLVE Oregon, said that his organization’s role was to work with corporate partners – Widmer and the Trail Blazers – to bring them to areas in most need of maintenance. “SOLVE is a state-wide nonprofit that gets volunteer groups involved and puts them onto clean-up projects all across the state,” he said. “We connect volunteer groups to projects that need to get done in their communities.”
Following the beach clean-up effort, which lasted from 1 to 3:30 p.m., volunteers were invited to enjoy drinks and snacks provided by SOLVE and Widmer. The adults were treated to ice-cold Widmer beer on the hot afternoon. Additionally, there was a raffle in which the volunteers entered for a chance to win tickets for the Trail Blazers, Timbers and Thorns, free beer for a year from Widmer, and an autographed practice jersey from Trail Blazer Jusuf Nurkic.
A few of the volunteers said they had never visited Broughton Beach before.
“It’s really beautiful. I’m really surprised I’ve never been here,” said Rikki Ford, who works for the Trail Blazers’ corporate communications. “As an organization, we really respect our environment and want to make sure that we're doing our part to help clean up and maintain the beautiful place we live.”