Nearly 250 volunteers scoured the Arkansas River picking up trash during the 26th annual Arkansas River Cleanup-Green Up hosted by Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Saturday – Colorado Public Lands Day.
Trash collected in Salida filled a 30-cubic yard dumpster, donated by Chaffee County Waste.
“That’s the most we’ve ever filled,” said maintenance team employee Jennifer Adamson.
State Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail). Donovan toured various parts of the state for Colorado Public Lands Day, making a stop in Salida for the event.
Donovan introduced the bill for Colorado Public Lands Day to be recognized as a state holiday in January 2016 which was signed May 17, 2016.
“It was really an effort to send a positive message and reflect the citizens of Colorado and how they feel about public lands,” Donovan said. “…I really wanted to get a positive message out there. A holiday is a day when you pause from your normal life to reflect on the issue of the day. Getting Colorado Public Lands on the calendar was a way to celebrate them and also to reflect them.”
Some holidays are reserved for rest and relaxation but Donovan said the spirit of volunteerism is strong in Colorado.
“Something like this that’s been going on for many years and to get to pair with a new holiday is great,” Donovan said. “Over 100 volunteers picking up the River – it’s the spirit of the community and it’s also the economic driver of the community.”
Salida High School senior Harper Powell, 18, was among those who volunteered to spend her Saturday cleaning up areas in Salida.
Powell participated in the event in previous years and wanted to assure that people, including herself, could enjoy the trails and river the way they were meant to be.
“I’m always going out on the trail so to help clean up the environment so other people can enjoy it without having trash there is pretty important,” Powell said. “It’s pretty important for the whole ecology of river itself and health wise.”
Rose Bayless, program assistant for Colorado Parks and Wild Life, Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, took part in all 26 of the Cleanup-Greenups and said this is one of their biggest volunteer events of the year.
Great Outdoors Colorado helped fund the picnic in the park, which allowed AHRA to give away T-shirts and water bottles for volunteers and provide food and drinks for the picnic.
Bayless said the event costs about $1,000.
“If we were paying people to clean up the river we’d spend a heck of a lot more than $1,000 for the number of volunteers we have participating,” Bayless said. “It’s really a great effort and I appreciate meeting the people who come from Colorado Springs, the (Salida) High School (national) honor society. Everyone who helps.”
During the event Bayless said they also found a few interesting items.
“I think we received the skull of an animal with the teeth attached and a jaw bone of an animal,” Bayless said. “There were a couple of old cans, one was so rusted you couldn’t tell what it was. Some lady found a black and white photograph that looked like it was from the 1960s. It was of a little boy in no shirt and in shorts doing his best Superman pose in front of a house.”