UC Davis students heading to Shasta Lake for Memorial Day weekend are being asked to clean up their mess after another group last weekend trashed an island long used for hard partying.
For years, college students from across the West Coast have rented houseboats and anchored them at Slaughterhouse Island, not far from Interstate 5 north of Redding. There’s always some mess left over that U.S. Forest Service employees have to clean up.
But Shasta-Trinity National Forest Service spokeswoman Phyllis Swanson said they’ve never encountered anything like the aftermath from last weekend. Crews were still working Tuesday to clean up about 100 tents, and piles of sleeping bags and blow-up mattresses, clothing, shoes, alcohol and coolers. Swanson said an estimated 1,000 people partied on the island.
“It was like somebody just came down and zapped these people out of nowhere, because (the garbage) was scattered for a good half mile,” Swanson said.
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Pictures of the mess taken by locals were shared nearly 50,000 times on Facebook as of Tuesday evening. Some of the images show University of Oregon paraphernalia on bags and flip-flops. In one shot, there’s a cooler emblazoned with the logo of the national fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha. The logo is above a note that reads “Do you wanna do some blow man?”
A University of Oregon official said an investigation is underway.
“The manner in which the Shasta-Trinity forest area was left is disgraceful,” Robin Holmes, vice president for student life, said in a prepared statement posted on the university’s website. “Trips to this area have become an annual event for fraternities and sororities all along the West Coast. It is one the University of Oregon does not sponsor or condone in any way.”
Holmes said Lambda Chi Alpha took “the commendable step of suspending all of its UO chapter’s activities until the situation is addressed.”
Swanson said she expects local sheriff’s deputies and Forest Service officers will do more patrols at Slaughterhouse Island over the long weekend in the hopes of preventing a similar scene of destruction. She said she’s also going to make a call to UC Davis to urge the university to tell its students to keep things clean.
“Come on up. Have fun. The lake’s almost full, but please come prepared and clean up after yourselves,” Swanson said.
UC Davis spokesman Andy Fell said the university already has sent out a message to students to remind them about houseboat safety over the long weekend, but it makes no mention of cleanup.
He said that if the Forest Service requests the university send another note, administrators would probably oblige.
The Associated Students of the University of California, Davis, sponsors a “Safeboats” program on the lake over Memorial Day weekend. It’s advertised as providing 24-hour medical service, water, condoms and granola bars to lake-goers.
Concerns about student safety on the island over the long holiday are well-founded. There have been at least recent two deaths at Slaughterhouse Island. In 2005 and 2012, two men died after falling into the water upon hitting their heads trying to jump between boats.