The Power of Partial Improvements: dozens of volunteers clean up Sand Springs park

More than fifty individuals came together this past weekend in Sand Springs to help with a massive cleanup effort in a now-defunct Tulsa County Park. (SUBMITTED).

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

Power of Partial Improvements began simply, as a group of friends with a passion for nature and the Oklahoma waterways. The river rats have spent ample time cleaning up the shores of local lakes and rivers over the years, making a point to leave the area cleaner than they found it on every outing. 

In November of last year Brian Hunter, Joseph Alchami, and Ashley Sorrell decided they needed to do more. The trio officially incorporated their new nonprofit and began a mission to change the culture in Oklahoma.

"We want to start a movement," said Hunter, the Executive Director. "Our number one goal is to inspire community involvement. Little by little, partial improvements can make a difference."

Left to right: Joseph Alchami, Ashley Sorrell, Brian Hunter--founding members and Power of Partial Improvements staff. (SUBMITTED).

They took the first big step toward inspiring community involvement last Saturday when more than fifty volunteers gathered together to clean up the Arkansas River shoreline in Sand Springs. The average worker spent nearly four hours trying to clean up the largest illegal dumping ground in the Sand Springs area.

Estill Park, once located along Wekiwa Road, west of Sand Springs, has been a dumping ground for decades since the closure of the park in the 1980s. But despite not being an official park anymore, it still gets its fair share of use. ATVs can often be heard through the trees of the overgrown property, and fishermen utilize the access point at Euchee Creek year-round.

SEE RELATED: The Land That Time Forgot: Estill Park and Wekiwa Road

More than thirty syringes were recovered from the Arkansas shoreline. (Submitted).

American Waste Control donated four roll-off dumpsters to the effort, each of which was completely filled by the end of the day. The volunteers didn't stop there. They also loaded up as many trucks and trailers as possible and got to dump it all for free thanks to the American Environmental Landfill. 

All sorts of strange items were found. Two abandoned cars were stuck in the sand along the river. Multiple abandoned boats were in the area. A few deer carcasses had been dumped by poachers. Most importantly, they were able to remove 30 syringes from the area.

More than 200 tires were piled high in the entrance to the property and the organization is working together with Danny Smith at Same Day Tire and Auto Repair in Sand Springs to get them removed and recycled. Hunter also cites the Tulsa County Conservation District and Bruce Hardy with Tanglewood Nurseries as critical to the success of the project. "Bruce made it happen," said Hunter. Hardy spent the full day on the project, running the loader for the dumpsters. "That was incredible. We wouldn't have gotten half as far as we did without him."

"We're really trying to reach out to the younger community and get them to care," said Hunter. "The community needs to come together to say, 'It's not okay to dump here.' We really want to help lift the burden on government entities."

Volunteers filled four dumpsters with trash Saturday along the Arkansas River. (SUBMITTED).

Despite the massive improvements made Saturday, Hunter says they're not done yet. The nonprofit plans on putting together future large-scale clean-up days every two months in the near future, and expects to return to the former Estill Park area again soon. 

"I would never have expected it to be so big. They answered the call...we know something great will happen from this." 

For now, the group maintains a Facebook group with more than 1,400 members where fellow activists can network and make plans for smaller cleanup days.

Visit their website at