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PORTLAND -- Families are re-discovering Broughton Beach along the Columbia river.

It s the river s closest sandy beach to Portland at Northeast 42nd Avenue and Marine Drive. But for decades it was a mess, full of garbage and glass and nails.

During the past summer, Metro Park Ranger Jim Caudell and others cleaned it up and changed its culture.

I m a little blown away by how much it s changed, Caudell said.

Last summer, after every weekend, the ranger found the beach littered with garbage, diapers, broken bottles and burned out wooden pallets. After 15 years he was sick of picking it up.

Time after time and loading garbage trucks and going home and night thinking really? Is this what I do? And time after time and nobody appreciates it because the next day its right back the same, he said.

But during a visit to Southern California, Caudell saw a machine cleaning the sand. He convinced a local company to rent him one for a week and took 115 tons of junk off Broughton Beach.

But its not just the sand. The Oregon Marine Board andMetro spent one point $4 million re-doing the boat ramp, the boat trailer parking lot, building a single car parking area and building permanent bathrooms.

It s a welcome change for many like Marcella Garcia who visits the beach as often as possible.

Oh my goodness was a really big surprise, she said.

The beach, which once attracted a rowdy crowd that lit bon fires and howled at the moon, now closes at dark and is patrolled by security. It s the kind of place mom s like Lindsey Quinn now feel comfortable bring their children.

We were surprised. It s really clean and family friendly so we ll be coming back, she said.

David Dale sat in the sand with five friends and admired the new beach. He visited a couple years ago and said the place was awful but now it s changed.

I guess I was a little surprised by it. It s very much more organized, more cleaner than it used to be, a lot more attractive, said Dale.

That s exactly what Paul Slyman, Metro's Director of Parks and Environment, hoped to hear.

It really feels like a new park to us, said Slyman.

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