About 800 volunteers are expected to gather along the shores of the Spokane River on Sept. 29 for the 10th annual Spokane River Clean-Up organized by the Friends of the Falls. The cleanup, which usually results in tons of trash being removed, will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Volunteers will again focus on the area near High Bridge Park, the University District and Spokane Valley, but there are a few tweaks this year. Friends of the Falls usually hands out small backpacks filled with trash bags and other supplies to volunteers, said event organizer Steve Faust. There are always some left over, sometimes hundreds of them. This year Friends of the Falls will be recycling a decade’s worth of backpacks. “We’re going to give out the ones we have left over,” Faust said.
In the spirit of recycling, experienced volunteers who have backpacks from previous years are encouraged to reuse them. “We’ll have the trash bags and all the supplies they’ll need,” he said.
Also new this year is the option for independent teams of at least 10 people to sign up to work wherever they would like, even in areas along the Spokane River that are not the focus of the cleanup. Organizers simply ask that one member of the team attend a training meeting Tuesday. The team leaders will be taught what to do with the trash and what to do if they find something they shouldn’t handle. “Every year we find a couple of meth cooking places,” Faust said. “We don’t want our volunteers to get into that.”
Many of the independent teams are expected to work in the Spokane Valley area, Faust said. “It’s so spread out,” he said. There will be a Spokane Valley sign-in point at the Barker Road trailhead.
This year the cleanup will also have a corporate cup division. Businesses will get points based on how many people sign up for their teams, which may also work independently. Prizes will be awarded to the winners, Faust said. There is a similar competition for high schools and middle schools. “(Lewis and Clark High School) has won that competition the last couple of years,” he said.
Volunteers are asked to sign up online at www.friendsof thefalls.org by next Thursday. People can pick where they want to work. There isn’t much parking available at High Bridge Park, so volunteers have the option of parking at Spokane Falls Community College and riding a shuttle bus to the site. The bus will begin running at 8:30 a.m.
Volunteers at High Bridge Park also have the option of entering the Most Unusual Trash competition, which has its own new twist this year. People are asked to submit items they believe can be incorporated into a work of art. When the cleanup closes at 1 p.m., three local artists will each pick an item from those submitted and build a work of art around it.
The art will be unveiled during a First Friday event at 6 p.m. Oct. 5 on the roof of the Saranac Building, 25 W. Main Ave. Prizes will be awarded to those who have their item selected and the artist judged to have created the best art. The corporate cup winners will also be revealed at the event.
“We think that will be kind of a fun thing,” Faust said.
Meanwhile, Faust is hoping for good weather for the day of the cleanup.
“I’m sure it will be a beautiful day and everyone will have fun,”