From Painted Rocks and Sula all the way to Missoula volunteers spread out on Aug. 10 for the annual Bitterroot River Clean Up.
The Bitter Root Water Forum, a local nonprofit that works to bring the community together to protect, enhance and restore waterways in the Bitterroot, has been hosting this event for over seven years.
“We had over 80 volunteers sign up this year for walking sites and floating stretches,” said Katie Vennie, program coordinator for the water forum. “We heard from most people that they found less trash than they’d seen in previous years, but even with that, volunteers still pulled out almost 2,000 pounds of trash.”
The official total was 1,980 pounds of trash brought down to River Park for the event. Notable finds included an antique fly reel, five and a half tires and a long fiber optic cable.
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By popular vote, the “Best Trash” prize went to a dryer door with the instructions intact on the inside found by Frank Schultz and his friends.
“My favorite find was a pair of Crocs,” Vennie said. “They were a matching set but, the individual shoes were brought in by two different groups who’d cleaned up two different stretches of the river.”
Vennie thinks the annual clean up, in addition to the Water Forum’s “Clean Up All Year” program, is helping make people more mindful of their trash on and near the river.
“We started the Clean Up All Year program last year with reusable clean up bags at local businesses throughout the valley. This year we also tried them out at a couple of fishing access sites to get bags directly in the hands of folks heading out on the river,” Vennie said. “The Bitter Root Water Forum is proud to put on this event and have this program for our community, bringing people together for the health of our river.”
The local sponsors who make this event possible include: Farmers State Bank, Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association, Fly Fishers of the Bitterroot, Bitterroot Drug, Bitterroot Conservation District, Rapp Family Foundation, First Security Bank, Water Master Rafts, Westslope Distillery, A2Z Personnel, Cybernet1, Bitter Root Brewing, Bitterroot Trout Unlimited, Mainstreet Toys, Freestone Fly Shop, Fishs Eddy O Outfitters, Allegra, Go West Outfitters, Evans Ace Hardware, Geum Environmental Consulting, TrailWest Bank, Bitterroot Disposal, Runner’s Edge, Higherground Brewing, Clearwater Systems, Hamilton Marketplace and Iron Horse Athletic Club.
For more information about this and the Bitter Root Water Forum’s other efforts visit their website at www.brwaterforum.org or find them on Facebook.