EUGENE, Ore. -- The River Guardians program has partnered with the City of Eugene for the past five years, working to clean up the Willamette River.
Once a month over that time, volunteers have taken boats out on the river to watch for dump sites, abandoned camps and habitat destruction throughout Eugene and Springfield.
"Our end goal is really to effect change, not only at the symptomatic level of cleaning up garbage, but also in the larger community to find solutions to homelessness and developing an ethic of responsibility around a clean river," said Riverkeeper Michelle Emmons.
Riverkeepers said the trash along the Willamette River negatively impacts the animals and habitats within the area.
"Right now we're seeing a lot of bio-hazards go in the water, a lot of chemicals that don't belong there that get caught up in the riverbed itself, catches animals and takes away from the habitat," Emmons said.
Most of the trash that is left on the sides of the river is due to "garbage farming," they said.
"They'll grab entire bags of garbage, bring it down here, dump it, and sort through it looking for pills, looking for anything they might consider valuable," said Riverkeeper Curtis Phillips.
River Guardians is a volunteer river monitoring and clean up program of Willamette Riverkeeper. To get involved, click here.