Volunteers flock to annual Lacamas Lake cleanup

Treasures pop up amongst nails, glass and other litter

UL employees and their family members volunteered to run the annual Lacamas Lake Cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Pictured from right to left are: Sheila Stepp, Lauren Massey, Erin Fitzgerald, Deanna Culley and Joseph Culley.

Tom Tangen, of Vancouver, combs the shores of Lacamas Lake during the annual lake cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

Wafertech employee Sherry Warren (right) volunteers to help clean the shores of Lacamas Lake each year. Here, Warren is pictured with her husband, Lamont Warren (second from right) and their grandchildren, Gabby Desmore, 10 (left); Jimmy Densmore, 7 (second from left); and Jordan Densmore, 15 (center), during the annual lake cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

Jordan Densmore, 15, (left) and his grandmother, Sherry Warren (right), both of Portland, show an election sign they pulled from the shores of Lacamas Lake during the annual lake cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

Lisa Tangen, of Vancouver, holds a bottle she and her husband, Tom Tange (not pictured), discovered during the annual Lacamas Lake Cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

Lisa Tangen, of Vancouver, holds a 1901 silver quarter she and her husband, Tom Tangen, discovered during the annual Lacamas Lake Cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (Photos by Kelly Moyer/Post-Record)

Lamont Warren, of Portland, shows one of two grills his family discovered on the shores of Lacamas Lake during the annual lake cleanup event on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

What lies beneath?

If you’re talking about Lacamas Lake, mostly nails, fishing gear and bottles. That’s according to some of the nearly 200 volunteers who participated in the annual lake cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 25.

The volunteers did unearth a few pieces of buried treasure on Saturday, including a vintage toy car and a 1901 silver quarter.

Tom Tangen, a lake cleanup enthusiast from Vancouver who brings his metal detector to the Camas lake’s shores on the first day of the lake drawdown every fall, scooped the car toy and antique quarter into a pile filled with metal pieces and broken glass. His wife, Lisa Tangen, sat on the banks of the lake, sorting Tom’s finds with a powerful magnet to sort nails and other metal bits from glass and plastic. When she came across the quarter, she didn’t realize it was a coin until she scraped off a few decades worth of mud and grime.

The Tangens will add the pieces to their extensive lake-cleanup collection, which includes a 1950s Dick Tracy metal toy gun, shot glasses from the old Camas Elks Lodge, vintage lighters, mid-century glass bottles and even a gold-and-diamond ring.

“You just never know what you might find,” Tom Tangen told the Post-Record after the 2018 lake cleanup, when he discovered part of a 1940s tombstone — which he took to the Camas Police Department.

Tom Tangen has been to every lake cleanup since 2013.

“Once that lake is down, he’s out there, picking through it, piece by piece,” Lisa Tangen said, laughing.

Most of the time, what the Tangens and other volunteers find during the annual UL-sponsored cleanup are bottles, nails, fishing gear and pieces of plastic.

Sherry Warren, a Wafertech employee who lives in Portland, brings her family to the lake cleanup each year. This year, she came with her husband, Lamont Warren, and their three grandchildren. The family found a lot of the typical littered items, but also discovered two large, metal grills and a newer election sign.

UL, a former Camas company that moved its headquarters to Vancouver in 2019, has continued to sponsor the annual lake cleanup and provide volunteers with trash bags, maps, lunch and beverages.

Deanna Culley, with UL, has helped coordinate the cleanup for the past four years. Some years have better weather than others, but Saturday’s sunny skies and fall temperatures drew between 150 and 200 volunteers to the lake, Culley said.

The city started the annual lake drawdown on Sept. 13, and reduced the level of the lake by 6 feet to inspect the dam and make any necessary repairs.

“Once inspections and repairs have taken place, the process to refill the lake to normal levels is scheduled to begin Oct. 25,” according to a city news release. “Officials expect this process to take several weeks, depending on rainfall volumes.”