Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup - FAQ
History & General Information
Online Volunteer Registration
Day of Event Information
History & General Information
Who started the beach cleanups and why are they important?
The first fall Beach & Riverside Cleanup began in 1984 through the leadership and vision of two Oregonian women, Judie Hansen and Eleanor Dye. The Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup was added in 1986 to address the issue of debris washing in after winter storms. Today, the Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup is a family-friendly Oregon tradition. Over 5,000 volunteers come out each March to pick up an average of 50,000 pounds of trash in one day along all 362 miles of our coastline.
SOLVE beach cleanup volunteers serve as a powerful force against the ongoing issue of marine debris on the Oregon coast. Common items found, such as cigarette butts, food wrappers, Styrofoam, and fishing line are often ingested, and entangle and kill hundreds of seabirds, fish, and mammals each year. Litter fouls boat propellers, clogs engines, and contributes to the degradation of our beaches. It also puts a damper on coastal tourism and the local economy. If you have participated in a SOLVE litter cleanup in the past, either on the beach or in your own neighborhood, you are part of the solution and we cannot thank you enough for your dedication to keep our state beautiful!
How are the beach cleanups organized?
Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup sites are organized into 14 Zones and led by volunteer “Zone Captains”. Within each Zone, each cleanup site is run by a “Beach Captain”, volunteer leaders who set up registration on the event day and provide volunteers with waiver forms, cleanup supplies, and safety information. Zone and Beach Captains are local to the area and are often an excellent resource for specific information like parking, accommodations, and directions. Hauling and disposal is donated by local haulers and state parks.
When and where is the Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup?
The Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup always takes place at the end of March or early April, and is scheduled around a low tide.
45 cleanup sites are scattered along the entirety of the Oregon Coast, from Columbia River Beach in Fort Stevens State Park on the Washington border to Harris Beach in Brookings near the California border.
What will I find? Where will my work have the most impact?
The type and amount of debris on Oregon's beaches varies greatly throughout the year and in different locations. The amount of debris on a given beach is directly linked to the strength and direction of offshore currents, storms, winds, and recent recreational usage. Volunteers report finding the most debris following a winter storm as it is washed in from the ocean and downstream from inland sources, such as rivers and streams. Volunteers also find more debris after major holiday weekends (ex: 4th of July, Spring Break) when the beach can become highly littered.
During the Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup, you may fill five bags, or just one, depending on your location and recent weather patterns. At some beaches you may find very large items washed in from the ocean, some with organisms attached. At other beaches, you may find very little. At these beaches, look closely at the tide lines and between rocks where thousands of tiny plastics tend to accumulate. The small stuff (plastics, foam, cigarette butts) is just as harmful to marine life as the big debris. Bring an old kitchen colander and small shovel to sift the sand and help remove these tiny pieces.
Volunteers looking for a beach where they will have a larger impact are encouraged to register at less popular sites along the coast. Popular sites include Seaside, Cannon Beach, Nehalem Bay State Park, Fort Stevens State Park, and Beverly Beach State Park, which can see over 200 volunteers each. Due to the high numbers of volunteers that register for these sites, there may be less to pick up. Please contact SOLVE if you would like suggestions.
Online Volunteer Registration
How do I register to volunteer for a Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup site?
Find a beach cleanup site near you on SOLVE's online calendar starting February 5. You may also click on a beach cleanup site using the clickable site map on the Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup page. Click the "Sign Up" button on your chosen site's webpage to register. You can also register to volunteer over the phone by calling 503-844-9571 ext. 332 or 1-800-333-SOLV.
Do I have to register online?
All volunteers are encouraged to pre-register online, particularly volunteer or business groups of 10 or more. We like to let the project leader know ahead of time how many volunteers to expect for logistical purposes. Pre-registration also allows you to fill out the online e-waiver and save time the morning of the event, and helps reduce the event's carbon footprint. If you cannot pre-register, you are welcome to register the morning of the event at the check-in table.
Day of Event Information
Who needs to fill out a waiver?
Everyone volunteering at a SOLVE event needs to complete a waiver.
- Youth volunteers who are accompanied by an adult can be included on the adult's waiver.
- Youth volunteers who are unaccompanied by an adult need to have a legal guardian fill out a youth waiver for them.
Waivers can be filled out either online - during our pre-registration process - or at the event. You may also print out a copy of our waiver, fill it out, and bring it the morning of to hand to the event leader. Many volunteer or business groups use this option.
What should I bring/wear?
SOLVE provides supplies including bags, gloves, and other items necessary for the project. To make the event more sustainable, volunteers are encouraged to bring resuable buckets and/or gloves to use in lieu of the provided items.
We recommend you bring:
- Sturdy closed-toed shoes
- Clothing suitable for the quickly changing coastal weather – rain and shine.
- A reusable container for drinking water and a snack or lunch.
- Reusable bag or buckets to reduce the number of trash bags we use.
- An old colander and small shovel to sift the tide lines for small pieces of plastic harmful to wildlife. These are the #1 items we find during beach cleanups!
I don't have a car. How can I get a ride to the project?
SOLVE is not able to arrange travel options for volunteers to events. We suggest that you either visit one of the following websites, or communicate with your friends and family to see if you can volunteer as a group and share transportation.
Websites for carpooling/rideshare:
- Craigslist Rideshare
- The Wave
Are projects family-friendly?
The Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup is a family-friendly event and Oregonians of all ages are ecouraged to join!
Can I bring my dog?
Dogs are, for the most part, allowed on Oregon beaches. During SOLVE beach cleanups, however we ask that dogs are kept on a leash for the comfort and safety of our other volunteers. The spring cleanup also falls during Western Snowy Plover nesting season. In many areas, the beach is partially roped off to protect these important birds, and in some areas, dogs are not allowed. Please follow to link to see restricted locations and to find out more.
Can I get community service credit?
SOLVE events can count towards community service. If a community service credit form is needed one is available to print here. Please note, all community service forms must be filled out the day of the event by the Beach Captain. SOLVE Staff not present at the event will not be able to confirm any community service after the event. Please check with the organization requiring the community service to see if they need you to bring any additional forms to be signed on the day of the event.
What happens if the weather is bad?
Under most circumstances, all SOLVE events happen rain or shine. In very rare cases where safety is a concern, SOLVE events may be cancelled or postponed. If this happens information will be posted on our website and social media. All pre-registered volunteers will also recieve an email and many will recieve phone calls informing them of the cancellation.
Will I find tsunami debris?
Since the devestating earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan in March 2011, Oregon's beaches have seen an increase in the amount and types of debris. The Oregon Marine Debris Team, a partnership between SOLVE, CoastWatch, Surfrider Foundation, Washed Ashore, and Oregon Sea Grant, was formed to collaborate on citizen-based efforts to track and clean up marine debris, including tsunami debris. SOLVE has also partnered with dozens of Japanese-related organizations throughout Oregon to provide cultural and language interpretive services at SOLVE Beach Cleanups and for suspected tsunami debris items found year-round. The amount of tsunami debris washing ashore has waned in the past year, but volunteers may still find some items. Please visit the SOLVE Marine Debris Reponse page or NOAA Marine Debris Program to learn more.
How do I involve my school?
SOLVE offers Oregon teachers and youth a number of pre-organized one-day opportunities to join in cleanup and restoration events around the state - including the Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup. Students are invited to sign on as a class, a club, a group of friends, or to participate in these activities with their families. The Ocean Conservancy and the NOAA Marine Debris Program have created some great educational resources that can be utilized before or after the event. Click here for their Talking Trash & Taking Action educational activity guide. SOLVE also provides documentation for students who need a record of their service hours. Please contact SOLVE if you have any questions about how to involve your students in the cleanup!
How can I become a Beach Captain?
SOLVE is always looking for volunteers who would like to help out at a single beach cleanup site during the Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup. Beach Captains are trained by Zone Captains, run a check-in site on the day of the event, and make sure volunteers receive supplies and safety information. See the Beach Captain description and email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
How can I get involved with other SOLVE events?
SOLVE offers a variety of watershed restoration opportunities for both leaders and volunteers.
- Beach & Riverside Cleanup: (September) Statewide restoration and cleanup effort that takes place during the International Coastal Cleanup and National Public Lands Day.
- SOLVE IT for Earth Day: (April) Statewide Earth Day restoration and cleanup effort.
- Oregon Adopt-A-River: (year-round) Clean up your favorite stretch of stream, lake, or river. Adopt-A-River is a statewide adoption of a 2-mile stretch of an Oregon waterway; participants commit to two projects per year over two years.
- Project Oregon: (year-round) Lead your own restoration project!