Making his way north on Highway 101, coastal local Raymond Block follows his passion to not only invest his personal time and effort but also to bring awareness of the shear amount of trash on the sides of our State roadways in the form of a campaign called “Leaven No Trace.”
By Brian Cameron
“Of all the places I’ve lived, some other states and a few separate countries, I’ve never seen such an accumulation of consistent trash in our environment,” said Block.
Starting his journey at the confluence of invisible boundary between California and Oregon, Block has made the last two months into time spent following a passion he never knew he had.
“One day I was just driving along the side of the highway,” said Block. “I noticed just so much trash and I just felt compelled to get out and do something about it.”
Block acknowledges that a number of federal, state, county and private organizations already perform roadside litter removal but he asserts they’re not being utilized enough, and the proof is contained in numerous and periodic trash bags arranged nicely for pickup and transport to regional transfer and recycling stations.
Ironically it was this very effort that originally saw him in front of a judge in Coos County.
“When I started this I had the Coos County coming to me and threatening fines because I was putting the trash I found in bags, they were trying to go after me for offensive littering,” said Block. “Which I found ironic considering the aim of my Leaven No Trace campaign, in the end they ticketed me for disorderly conduct, but they still allowed me to do it just with written permission.”
According to Block he stood his ground with the County arguing that he was not only volunteering his time for a good cause but also pointed out he was essentially showing up the official efforts of litter collection. In the end Block said Coos County decided to work with him and its been a great example of constructive cooperation ever since.
“The problem was that I was picking up too much trash,” said Block. “They said they would provide some bags and transport them to the waste station.”
After a rough start Block began his journey northward through Curry, Coos, Douglas, Lane, Lincoln and now Tillamook Counties, citing Curry County as being exceptionally helpful and receptive to his efforts and though he only briefly went through Douglas and Lane Counties Block said they all were either receptive or casual about his efforts and only that first time in Coos County did he ever experience any civil hardship regarding his Leave No Trace campaign.
Block has an effective system of support in the form of his mother who has also taken it upon herself to act as his transportation and chase car as he spends a full work-day, every day, performing litter removal. She has all of their supplies, garbage bags, gloves, as well as daily clothing, food and a ride every other week back to Coos County so Block can be with his son, afterward they load back up and continue on where they left off.
So far Block said the most prolific piece of trash he’s picked up is microplastics and just plastic in general. He has estimated that so far he’s picked up over 100 tons of trash which includes over 5,000 tires, which according to Block is a much larger problem than it seems, to date he’s helped identify over 100 separate illegal dumpsites all within feet of the roadway.
Continuing his campaign north Block intends to get to Astoria, take a little bit of time off to visit his son and then continue back southward, focusing on the opposite side of the roadway.
According to Block he’s always looking for helpful community non-profit organization, clubs, groups or even individual volunteers to help with his Leaven No Trace campaign. As he enters into central and northern Tillamook County he intends to try and contact community organizations to see if they would be interested in helping some way.
“If everyone took even ten minutes out of their day to simply pickup trash around them it would make what I’m doing right now irrelevant,” said Block. “I hope this results in more people becoming aware that even though we have litter removal programs that they can be more active and utilized more as from what I’ve seen there’s more work to do.”
For information on Block’s Leaven No Trace campaign you visit the website at www.leavennotrace.org. Or you can find it on Facebook under Leaven No Trace.