IVCDO gives local parks some love

“We Love Our Parks” was the event hosted by the Illinois Valley Community Development Organization July 30 at the Forks State Park. The purpose of the event was to bring community members together to support parks within the Illinois Valley on both a state and local level.
The event was held in conjunction with the city of Cave Junction’s Parks &Recreation Commission, the Oregon Caves, Friends of Forks Park and Oregon State Parks. Although the turnout was smaller than anticipated, those who attended were able to learn more about the history of the Forks State Park, participate in a community clean-up of the area’s trails, and witness a unique woodcarving demonstration.
Each organization present had their own table set up in the shade of the parks’ central pavilion. Guests were welcome to browse the material at each table, from pamphlets detailing the rich histories of Oregon State Parks and the Oregon Caves, to a large poster board that vividly displayed the coming plans and fixtures for the Jubilee Park splash pad and playground renovation.
To the left of the pavilion, professional woodcarver Joey Wallace was hard at work with his chainsaw, giving fallen trees from local parks new life as custom benches. These benches, featuring immersive designs based off of local wildlife and scenery will eventually be placed along the newly expanded Rough and Ready Botanical Wayside Trail for public use.
In addition to the displays and woodcarving, park rangers, community organizers and volunteers took action by cleaning up nearby trails. Participants grabbed large plastic contractor bags, trash-picking tools and bottles of water, and then went to work by scouring the ground for garbage. There were plenty of things to find, from cigarette butts to Barbie dolls, but many community members were in agreement that the trash situation was not as bad as they had expected it to be.
The most prevalent piece of litter was not found on the trails, but around the pavilion. Shiny, round bits of gold confetti and pieces of balloons lay in the grass, mostly obscured unless the sunlight hit them at a certain angle.
Confetti-filled balloons have become such a staple at birthday parties; nobody was surprised to find these remnants on the ground. IVCDO Executive Director Lindsey B. Jones observed that “there are much more eco-friendly alternatives to the synthetic confetti, such as taking a hole-punch to leaves of various colors,” but she also recognized that not everybody is willing to opt for such a solution.
By the time the clean-up crew returned to the pavilion, it was afternoon and the summer heat was once more in full effect. Children were playing in a sprinkler system that somebody had managed to dig out, seemingly unaware that in that same location there will eventually be a brand new playground for them to enjoy.
This planned playground at the Forks Park, however, will differ dramatically from the playground equipment found at Jubilee Park. Instead, this playground will offer children a more rustic experience in the form of log structures, manmade climbing rocks, and carved tunnels to keep with the parks’ general aesthetic.
Those who attended the event accomplished quite a bit in just a few hours. Spirits were high as like-minded individuals gathered with a common goal of expanding Valley parks and keeping them safe and clean. Plus, watching Joey Wallace turn fallen trees into functional pieces of art was an added bonus. Between the planned playground and the new benches, it looks as though new life will be breathed into the Forks State Park and the surrounding area.