The River Ambassadors initiative sprung out of a need to better connect river users with stewardship, recreation, and safety information while visiting the very popular Clackamas River.

With the help of an array of stakeholders, we formulated these goals:

  1. Improve visitor experiences
  2. Communicate river conditions and hazards
  3. Reduce river congestion
  4. Encourage river stewardship and safety
  5. Connect visitors to the abundance of recreation services in the Clackamas River region
  6. Monitor and collect data for river conservation

We are always recruiting River Ambassadors, with a number of creative and fun ways to serve:

  • Paddle a section and clean it up on your way – these DIY cleanups, initiated years ago by local volunteers, both directly reduce litter on the river AND model clean and fun stewardship. Ready to adopt a section and provide photo updates on your hauls? 
  • Help maintain the Clackamas Water Trail website. The website was built to complement and support the River Ambassador messaging (i.e. be a 24 hour River Ambassador),  and provide authoritative information for both volunteers serving as RAs and for anyone wanting information about floating or boating the lower Clackamas. Looking for GIS experts, Cartographers, environmental educators, fishing folk and paddling experts, and anyone who wants to contribute to the most comprehensive website for floating and boating the lower Clackamas River. 
  • Help design, build, maintain, stock, and support River Ambassador kiosks  in key locations near each launch along the lower Clackamas. These ‘kiosks’ (design TBD, and in concert with each land manager) will pull together the Stash the Trash bag and Life Jacket loaner stations, along with wayfinding maps and river conditions information (flow, temperature, hazards). Tabling events with stakeholder organizations will compliment the ongoing messaging at the kiosks (schedule for 2023 coming!).
  • Accompany guided nature, conservation, and recreational tours (TBD). Train with We Love Clean Rivers and its stakeholder network on the secrets, splendor, and stories of the Clackamas River.
  • Monitor and Measure Water Quality. Identify rare wildlife, collect water samples, spot spills or leaks, and help maintain timely data for the We Love Clean Rivers Swim Guide pages.

If you are interested in volunteering, please email Matt Taylor directly at matt@welovecleanrivers.org or text/call him at 541-921-0316.


We  Love Clean Rivers led two years of pilot programming with River Ambassadors (summers of 2020 and 2021) largely following the ‘tabling model’, whereby volunteers set up and staffed a table and tent at launch points along the lower Clackamas River. They could then interact with passers by, and communicate through signage (a river conditions board) and direct engagement. 

While we could tell the stations had direct impacts (connecting users with trash bags and life jackets being two recurring themes), of more value and interest to volunteers was to support ongoing DIY cleanups, develop wildlife and water quality monitoring, and promote stewardship through direct engagement on the river. 

For 2022, We Love Clean Rivers shifted to support DIY cleanups (on the water River Ambassadors), with one of the critical roles being the stocking of Stash the Trash bag stations. Led by some volunteers who have been doing their own cleanups on a regular basis – some weekly and some as an annual event – the busiest sections of the river have been getting routine sweeps of trash. These routine cleanups have inspired others, and the river is appearing cleaner than summer’s past (minus the recent scourge of pool toys). 

Another outtake from two years of pilot programming was a clear need for better information at the launches (signage) and in general (i.e. on the internet). From that we shifted gears and worked with Clackamas River Water Providers to pursue grant funding for an informational map and website to consolidate and clarify information for river users. See the Clackamas Water Trail website for the first phase of this project! 

We Love Clean Rivers
DIY Cleanup Trip Report
Clackamas River, Barton to Carver section
1:00 PM
3:00 PM
2 hours
Avg. 4519 cubic feet per second (cfs) from 1:00-3pm, rising from 4370 to 4610 cfs during the trip
56 degrees fahrenheit
Clear to 3 feet
65 degrees fahrenheit
Dynamic clouds (cumulous), big swaths of blue, small shower at end of trip
Clean (see photo album)
We saw a piece of vegetation or a ribbon/webbing of some sort, but could not ID or stop (in middle of swift channel rapid); teen raft identified a tire buried in mud near where they pulled out (putting on map)
Swift water, cold, numerous trees (strainers) in popular rapids along outer shore (outside of bends generally).
Scotch Brome, Blackberry galore, knotweed?
Perfect trip!

River Ambassador Qualifications

River Ambassador Benefits

Keeping volunteers safe is our first priority - if you have questions about our COVID-19 safety precautions, feel free to contact us at info@welovecleanrivers.org.

We Love Clean Rivers is grateful for our strong partners in developing the River Ambassadors Program


The River Ambassadors Initiative has been funded and supported by Clackamas River Water Providers, Clackamas River Basin Council, Mt. Hood Territory, Travel Oregon, Clackamas County Parks & Forestry, and We Love Clean Rivers.