CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) -- Fed up with garbage, drunks and fights on the Clackamas River, Clackamas County commissioners approved new rules Thursday night for people using this popular waterway.
Starting immediately, deputies will do inspections on the personal property river-goers bring to the Clackamas River. That includes inspections of coolers, backpacks, purses -- anything that could hide alcohol or glass.
The worst part of the problem lies along the five miles of the Clackamas River between Barton and Carver parks -- a popular stretch for people floating the river and trying to enjoy nature. Along the way, "people just drown their beer bottles in the bottom of the river," said river-goer Chris Davis.
Abuses such as that led to Thursday's ruling.
Video produced by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office shows lots of garbage -- mostly beer bottles and cans -- along with lots of drinking and the occasional beer brawl.
"Unfortunately, the video you see ... is all too commonplace during the summer months," said Lt. Jeff Davis with Clackamas County. "And quite simply, the proposed ordinance we feel is a step in the right direction."
Clackamas County commissioners unanimously approved the ordinance, giving park rangers and sheriff's deputies the right to inspect everything from backpacks to coolers at any county park -- especially Barton and Carver.
Any park user who tries to bring in alcohol or glass will be excluded, they determined. Anyone refusing to allow the inspection also will be excluded.
Some who testified at Thursday's commissioner's meeting said the inspections infringe upon their rights. And that includes the rights of those who use the river as their form of transportation, even to and from the grocery store.
"I think I should have a right to transport a can of beer down that boat ramp and put it in my canoe and float on down to my house," said Frank Eaton, a man who lives on river.
But commissioners said too many people are trashing the river, and causing problems.
"I ain't got nothin to hide," said river user Jason Dissell. "I don't drink, so that helps. At least it'll keep some of the drinkers off."
Alcohol is already off-limits at Clackamas County Parks. The inspections will give deputies another tool to enforce the ban.
Note that though the inspections target the Barton and Carver boat launch areas, inspections now can be done at any Clackamas County park. Signs are expected to be posted starting Friday.
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