Cleaning up the Colorado and Roaring Fork

By all accounts, this year’s Glenwood Springs River Cleanup, on Saturday, August 25, was a success. About 85 volunteers, including almost a dozen in boats, turned out to pick up trash from an estimated nineteen miles of public riverbanks along the Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers.   The event was organized by the Glenwood Springs River Commission, a nine-member citizen board that advises Glenwood’s City Council on issues related to the rivers and the City’s River Trail system. The River Commission credits the excellent volunteer turnout largely to a series of ads in local newspapers, mostly financed by a substantial gift from the Ferdinand Hayden Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Volunteers met at Two Rivers Park to register for cleanup assignments. Fueled by coffee donated by Starbucks, volunteers on land picked up trash along the Glenwood Canyon bike path from the Grizzly Creek rest area to the west end of the Horseshoe Bend tunnels, as well as from about three miles of riverbank along the Roaring Fork and Colorado within the city limits. Boaters reached from their boats and scrambled onto shore to pick up litter and larger trash along the south side of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon and on both sides of the Colorado from the city limits to the South Canyon boat launch ramp west of town. Other boaters combed less-accessible stretches of the Roaring Fork within Glenwood Springs.

American Rivers, a nationwide nonprofit that advocates for healthy rivers, provided the trash bags, and the Colorado River District chipped in additional cash for the project. The trash, which amounted to several truckloads, included everything from the smallest pieces of foil wrappers to pallets, culverts, and an artificial Christmas tree complete with lights. The most common items were water bottles, soft drink cans, and fast food cups. City of Glenwood workers picked up full trash bags left at work sites by land-based volunteers, and hauled them to the landfill.

After the work was done, volunteers were treated to a community barbecue made possible by the generosity of Glenwood Springs businesses. Rick Wernsmann of the 19th Street Diner donated burgers and sausages and cooked them on a commercial-sized grill. The burgers and brats were accompanied by side dishes stirred up by six Glenwood Springs restaurants. Glenwood Canyon Brewing furnished the beer, and soft drinks were donated by the local Coca Cola distributor. Through it all, the volunteers were serenaded with smooth country-rock music provided by a Carbondale-based band called “All the Pretty Horses.”

This was the second annual community-wide river cleanup, and with the success of this year’s event, it’s pretty certain the River Commission will continue to promote a cleanup day into the future.

Article and photos submitted by the Ferdinand Hayden Chapter of TU.