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16th Annual Colorado River Cleanup

Aug. 1, 2020

The 16th Annual Colorado River Cleanup.

What a year for the Grand Valley Paddling Club. The annual Colorado River Cleanup (CRC) is a tradition we carry on from the WATER club. For 16 years and even longer than that the people of the grand valley have been giving their time and effort to clean up the waters that run through this community. During these trying and difficult times, the amount of support and generosity has been overwhelming. We broke all the records this year, we added a new boat ramp, and collected more trash than ever. To the volunteers: Your love for the river and each other shows through your contagious and overflowing effort and enthusiasm.

The Facts: ​

  • 150 People registered for the cleanup

  • 94 Amazing volunteers floated the river

  • 65 Happy BBQ attendees won prizes

  • 33 Businesses and Organizations contributed

  • 32 Yards of trash was collected

  • 23 Tires were picked up

  • 30 Miles of river is now cleaner

We cleaned up so much trash this year that we have to change how we pick it up next year. This shows the desperate need for the cleanup and the very real problem this river faces. The Grand Valley is vast and full of different kinds of people, some very awesome and amazing people that love and care for the river, and some that do not, and some that have not yet discovered the joys of a clean flowing river.

My hat is off to the Las Colonias to Blue Heron crew! They cleaned up an obscene amount of trash. The following pictures are graphic in nature and may not be suitable for all people. Viewer discretion is advised.

Look at all that trash!

Besides the couch, mattress, and shopping cart, a cash register was found, a very sad dragon, and one very ugly and erotic garbage smoking trash baby.

But, even amongst the obscene, crude, and grotesque sight did you see all those happy faces!

This is a special year for the cleanup. It was our first time providing an opportunity for local artists to get involved. We put out a request for artists and gave them a blank canvas. We had a couple of wonderful artists show interest. Rachel Campbell-Osborne designed the front of this year’s shirt. Inspired by the Colorado Pike Minnow, one of the 4 federally endangered fish species that live within our cleanup area, otherwise known as the “Trash Fish”. She depicted this trash fish cleaning up trash from the river. If the trash fish can do it so can you. Not only did she contribute the shirt design, a full color print of the original artwork, she inspired a community to take action and clean the river just like the trash fish.

Jill Lacy was another artist who was interested in working with the cleanup. While only one artist was featured for the shirt Jill was provided a truly unique canvas. She transformed a very useful and handy 50 Cal ammo can into a work of functional art that amazed and excited all. It was raffled off along with so many other wonderful prizes at the appreciation BBQ.

Once again, we had more prizes than people and had to scramble to consolidate what we had to fit the list of volunteers that attended the BBQ. Everything that we receive we give back to the community and the people that help clean up our river. We will be raising money next year as we used every penny donated to cover our growing costs because so many people participated. This is a good problem to have. And I am sure that our community will come through just as it has year after year to come out and support our rivers and each other as we clean them.

We are just one chink in the chain or pearl on the string. The Colorado Canyons Association cleans up the Gunnison River and the Ruby Horsethief section of the Colorado. They run a very successful operation and one that is needed for the continued health of our local rivers. We have been asked to expand the cleanup down to the Loma boat ramp and as high as the palisade rim trail access. We will be working to expand the cleanup to fill in the gaps. Each year we learn, we grow, we make things better and improve the process.

Thank you for your contributions!

Thank you again to all the volunteers and everyone who made this cleanup possible. Shout out to my parents who came down to help too.

See you all on the river. Keep on paddling!


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