The entrance to Mill Ponds is only a few feet from U.S. Highway 101 in south Seaside, but a few steps in, the sidewalk ends and low reeds bristle along the water.
Wide paths provide entry into a dark and deeply wooded world. Blinding sun suddenly blazes through the gaps between leaves before you return to the trail. You would only expect night birds, the running of fish, the slap of a beaver’s tail.
As the path grows deeper, bicycle tires, old shoes and twisted rags dot the paths. A dump site holds an old crate, ripped plastic, headless dolls. Suddenly you are stepping into damp pillows, fractured crates, hypodermic needles and crusty coffee cans.
In February, 32 volunteers inspired by Seaside volunteer Jesse Anderson’s cleanup efforts collected tires, bikes, buckets and needles. The Public Works Department hauled 50 yards — about 26 tons of garbage — using the city dump truck, two dump boxes, a backhoe and mini-excavator.
That was February and the next month the pandemic paused their efforts. In the time since trash at Mill Ponds and other natural areas throughout Seaside have increased. We walked the area with Seaside Community Cleanup volunteer Brady Chandler.