Floodwater washed across Tulsa's Oxley Nature Center and left tons of trash behind on a section of the center by Bird Creek.
The creek washed out an old City of Tulsa landfill and the current took it downstream. The high water washed it into woods along a closed section of Mohawk Boulevard.
The Director of the center estimates it covers three to five acres, out of more than 800 acres in the preserve.
"When the water got high enough to go over the bank, all the trash that washed downstream ... just came through here, (from the creek) for a quarter mile that way, tons of trash washed up,” said Eddie Reese.
He said heavier items from the landfill, including appliances, are in the creek and near the exposed part of the landfill, while lighter trash washed up into woods. The current carried some tires and glass bottles onto the land.
Plastic sheets and bags are hanging on low branches, tangled in weeds and scattered on the ground. Plastic is tied up in tree roots, and what’s there is every manner of plastic bag and wrapper, including a surprising number of Wonder Bread bags that were put into a landfill used in the late 1960s.
Reese said records show three City landfills were along Mohawk Boulevard on land that is now part of the Nature Preserve. Bird Creek washed out one, moving trash downstream, depositing on at least three acres of land.
Reese said a handful of volunteers have picked up bags of trash, but it’s a far larger job than their core group of supporters could handle. Reese said they’ve found, "a lot of plastic sacks, plastic bottles, some glass. We even found some little plastic cowboys and Indians, we've been collecting those."
If the plastic wasn't dirty, most of it would be in perfect condition, well preserved in the landfill where it was buried 50 years ago.
Reese hopes the sight of so much old plastic in the landscape will encourage people to use less. The washout illustrated that even a bread wrapper used one time never really goes away in a landfill.
"It's plastic, if we don't clean it up, how many centuries will it take for it to decompose?” he said.
The city is making plans to clean up the site and is working with environmental officials on steps to cover the exposed portion of the landfill, which remains vulnerable if the creek rises.