Another Clean-Up, Another 6.5 Tons of Trash!

– Written by Monica Hescheles

Student from PIA School and employees from Walker Emulsions Division joined together to clean up the creek and natural area at Tideman Johnson Park.


A huge thank you to all of the volunteers, teams, partners, sponsors and staff that participated in the Annual Johnson Creek Clean-up 2023. The clean-up offers a unique opportunity to explore an urban waterway in an intimate and impactful way. For the average person in the Portland Metro area, Johnson Creek is equally familiar as mysterious. Perhaps they recognize the name from the Portland street, maybe they’ve driven past a fading Johnson Creek Watershed sign or ridden past what appears to be a small stream along the Springwater Corridor Trail. To volunteers that join for a Johnson Creek Habitat Enhancement event and participants of an education event, the picture of a complex and challenged ecosystem becomes a little more clear yet much of the intricacies still remain unknown. 

From my personal experience, the act of walking in the creek creates a distinctive connection and understanding. New birds appear, like the Barred Owl and Green Heron that I spotted recently. The abundance of crayfish becomes apparent and little minnows dart between rocks in front of you. The sound of running water fills your head and lush vegetation opens up in front of you. As you start to pay attention to these small details, you also take note of something else… TRASH!

The nature of an urban stream lends itself to disruptions that its rural counterpart does not experience and one of those is the accumulation of garbage. While we have not done an in-depth analysis of where the trash comes from it has many sources and can take many different shapes and sizes. This year, in addition to the 348 bags that volunteers collected while wading through the creek and adjacent natural areas, they also pulled out 7 tires, 9 shopping carts, 2 mattresses, 3 traffic cones, 4 large pieces of metal, and 5 tents. All together, 12,860 lbs of garbage was removed and disposed of, that is nearly 6.5 tons! This type of impact would not be possible without the help of the 156 volunteers that donated their time, energy and acute observation skills. 

Volunteers from the Happy Valley Satellite Rotary Club remove trash at the Foster Floodplain Natural Area with Portland Parks & Recreation staff, Susan Hawes.

We would especially like to thank PGE, PIA School, Walker Emulsions, Precision Castparts Corp, Boys Team Charity, Happy Valley League, Oregon AFSCME, Happy Valley Satellite Rotary Club and OTAK for organizing and sending teams. We\’d also like to thank Junk-it Portland, Ground Score Association, North Clackamas Parks and Recreation, Portland Parks and Recreation, Clackamas Water Environment Services, Metro Regional Refresh Fund, Portland General Electric, Mintkeski Family Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, and City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services, for helping to support and fund the project.

Volunteers gathered at Johnson Creek Park to enjoy burritos and hear recaps of the different sections of creek.

To celebrate the success of their efforts, volunteers gathered at Johnson Creek Park where they enjoyed burritos from Mixteca PDX, flaunted their new Johnson Creek Clean-up t-shirts designed by ilish bath (see below if you want one!) and voted for this year’s Gold Trash Can Award. With everyone gathered, what really stood out to me is the care and compassion that this community has for this 26 miles stretch of creek that provides cold water refuge for salmon, lodge building opportunities for beavers, breeding grounds for amphibians and a place we can all call home. Once again, thank you for your time and effort! 

If you missed out on the clean-up this year but would still like to support the efforts of Johnson Creek Watershed Council and receive one of the awesome t-shirts designed by @ilishart, you can donate at The first 30 people to make a donation will receive a t-shirt.

Follow these instructions:  

  1. Go to
  2. Select “Donate Now”
  3. Select donation amount ($15 donation minimum suggested)
  4. Complete Name, Email and Phone Number fields 
  5. In the comments section indicate the following if you would like a t-shirt
    1. Your preferred size (sizing limited and we will do our best to accommodate your preferred size)
    2. Whether you will pick it up at the office at 4033 SE Woodstock Blvd (preferred) or have it shipped to you
    3. If you would like it shipped, please add your shipping address 

Photos below from the 2023 Johnson Creek Clean-up were contributed by Monica Hescheles, Daniel Newberry, Cailin Warner, Nick Cook, Steve Ham, Marlee Eckman

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