The number of people visiting and moving to our beautiful area continues to grow, meaning it is more important than ever to keep it clean and healthy. According to recent news reports, visits to Oregon State Parks set a record for the fourth consecutive year, with over 51 million visits in 2016 alone. Additionally, the Portland metro area is one of the fastest growing regions in the country.
With increased use comes increased impacts, including littering, spreading of invasive plants, and damage to sensitive wildlife habitat. Unfortunately, government agencies are not able to respond to all of the urgent needs facing our parks, neighborhoods and natural areas due to limited resources.
There is, however, a solution.
To address these needs, we need thousands of volunteers across Oregon and Southwest Washington to step up and commit to make a difference in the neighborhoods and natural areas near them. In order to activate this volunteer effort, SOLVE, a statewide non-profit organization that brings Oregonians together to improve our environment and build a legacy of stewardship, is hosting a statewide day of service, SOLVE IT for Earth Day, on April 22.
SOLVE IT for Earth Day, presented by Portland General Electric, supports volunteers who take care of our parks, waterways and neighborhoods by picking up trash, pulling invasive weeds, planting trees and more. This is a great opportunity for individuals to come together with thousands of other volunteers at over 150 different projects sites throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington to make a difference and improve our environment.
People all over the world have been coming together on Earth Day to take care of and celebrate our planet. The idea and motivation behind Earth Day perfectly aligns with the values of SOLVE and its volunteers. In 1990, SOLVE IT for Earth Day took root in the Greater Portland Metro area, fusing our hands-on approach with this worldwide day of service. Since then, SOLVE IT for Earth Day has grown into Oregon's largest Earth Day service event.
Over the past 27 years more than 112,000 volunteers have removed 15 million pounds of litter and invasive plants from illegal dumpsites, neighborhoods, and natural areas as part of this global event. Last year alone 7,300 volunteers removed 47 tons of litter, cleared 14 acres of non-native invasive plants, and planted more than 3,500 native trees and shrubs.
This year, more than 6,000 volunteers are expected to help remove over 150,000 pounds of litter and marine debris along with several acres of invasive plants, giving Oregon and Southwest Washington some much needed spring cleaning. Planned events include taking care of many of our region's most beloved landmarks, including Tryon Creek State Park, Forest Park, High Rocks on the Clackamas River, the Molalla River, Sauvie Island and Kelley Point Park.
Individuals and groups interested in participating can choose from over 150 events happening statewide this April to take part in this monumental effort. Sign up is taking place now at solveoregon.org.
Let's come together to make this Earth Day the largest ever, picking up litter, removing invasive plants, and planting native trees and shrubs across the state. Together, we can make sure Oregon and Southwest Washington remain the amazing place we all love.