Annual Ochoco Creek cleanup event fast approaching

The Central Oregonian reports on the Ochoco Creek cleanup, hosted by the Rotary Club of Prineville. The Land Trust is a partner in the cleanup.
By Ramona McCallister
Central Oregonian


The fifth-annual Ochoco Creek cleanup is quickly approaching, and if you enjoy giving back to the community and want to be part of keeping the Ochoco Creek and surrounding area beautiful, this is your event.

The Rotary Club of Prineville has been a big part of this event from the beginning, and Carol Benkosky is event organizer for the annual cleanup.

Ochoco Creek clean-up is a collaboration of several partners, including Rotary, Crook County Parks and Recreation District, Prineville Disposal, Crook County, Deschutes Land Trust and SOLVE. The latter provides gloves, pickers, bags and supplies for the volunteers. Benkosky emphasized that it is also wise to bring heavier gloves for picking up some of the larger debris.

Other partners for the event include Republic Services, who will provide the large dumpster for free, and the Crook County Landfill will pick up the dumping fees. SOLVE provides a website, where participants can sign up ahead of time at Benkosky also encouraged anyone who has difficulty signing up to send her an email at

In addition to the partners and sponsors, the Oregon National Guard Youth Challenge Program has more than 20 cadets who help annually with the cleanup event. They will cover the section of the creek near St. Charles Prineville and up towards Willowdale. The Crook County High School ROTC is also a big part of the event annually.

The cleanup will take place on Saturday, March 26. This year, they will be combining with the Earth Day event. The event begins at 12 p.m., at Pioneer Park. If participants have not registered ahead of time, they are recommended to come early to get registered. Shortly after everyone registers, they will do a safety briefing and they will form teams. Participants are assigned a section of creek and given a map if they are not familiar with that part of the creek.

"We need folks to come out and clean the uplands, also. That means any age can be out there, helping. It really is important to get the stuff from the uplands because it seems to be getting increasingly windy here. When the wind blows, everything that is in the uplands ends up in the creek," Benkosky pointed out.

She added that the reference to the uplands includes all the parks, the city streets and anything not part of the creek.

Any participants who are 16 or younger should have a guardian with them — not necessarily a parent but a responsible adult over 18 years of age. Benkosky indicated that it takes approximately two hours to complete the creek cleanup.

After the cleanup, Crooked Roots Brewing is hosting a post-cleanup celebration. There will be food and drinks available, with discounts on brews.

Benkosky recalled that in the past, they have found interesting items in the creek.

"We found an air conditioning unit someone had thrown into the creek, which just seems odd — how does that happen? That was probably our oddest thing that we pulled out."

She added that in the past, they have also found shopping carts, bicycles, boards and balls. They have also seen a decrease in plastic bags that have blown into the creek and the branches and debris surrounding the creek, which came from retail merchants. Since stores have not been using them as much, that has become less of a problem.

"The worst part about it, they get all tangled up in the branches, sometimes higher than out volunteers could reach," Benkosky went on to explain. "They were always a real unsightly mess. They called them urban tumbleweeds, because if they get loose, they tumble and go until something stops them, which is usually a creek."

To sign up for the Saturday, March 26 cleanup, go to are encouraged to sign up ahead of time. The event begins at 12 p.m. at Pioneer Park. Please wear sturdy shoes. Pickers, trash bags and vinyl gloves will be provided. All ages are welcome.

For questions, email Carol Benkosky at

To sign up, go to