Last week Jackie volunteered to help clean up an eagle nesting habitat along Riverside Drive between 91st and 96th Streets. I had a free day off work and decided to join her. It was a sunny day and we prepared to pick up litter.
But it was a tad bit more litter than we had anticipated.
About 40 people had been living along this densely wooded area. So many people the eagles had moved on– most nesting across the river. The goal was to clean up the area, persuade the homeless to leave and wait for the eagles to return.
Leading up to this cleanup volunteers from John 3:16 and Tulsa Police had visited the area to warn the “residents” that they were trespassing and a cleanup was planned. The night before a final was issued, and at sunrise on the big day police officers began moving people out. About half had heeded the warnings and left. The others either went to the John 3:16 mission, wandered away or went to jail. One couple were cooking meth and refused to leave their tent until pelted with pepper balls (imagine a paintball gun but the balls are filled with pepper spray instead of paint).
The amount of trash was massive. We carried, drug and ferried load after load to waiting trucks provided by the City of Tulsa. But most striking was the temporary domiciles the homeless had erected.
Most were simple camping tents, but others were pseudo permanent affairs made from tarps or old billboard vinyl. One compound was carved into a stand of bamboo and made quite an impressive oasis in the thick greenery. Cooking stoves fabricated from propane tanks were quite common. A nearby resident visited us and noted no one at their apartment complex could leave propane tanks outside for fear of theft.
It was quite an experience. Hopefully the eagles appreciated the effort.