Ever find an object on the side of the road that is just so disgusting and revolting, you know in that moment you’ll surely have PTSD from even seeing it? There were a few of those objects found on September 12 at the first ever A Cleaner Clear river cleanup. Prizes were given for these bizarre items of course to offset the trauma. But it strikes me as strange that one would discard the packaging of phallic adult novelties in a riverbed. I assumed litter in this locale would be reserved for murder weapons and other criminal evidence. Unless of course you kill someone with an oversized floppy phallic object. Could happen. And I’d pay good money to see the headline.
Initially when I came up with the idea for a river cleanup, I imagined inviting twenty of my closest friends and maybe ten would show up if offered free beer. We’d fill a few bags with junk for an hour, then fish into the evening filling up a separate bag with our own empty beer cans.
Well, I started digging into what it would take to create a successful event and I quickly realized this little cleanup could be something larger and maybe even a little fun for everyone else. Landon Mayer has been doing a river cleanup on the famed Dream Stream between Spinney and Antero Reservoirs for years. He calls it “Clean the Dream“, and he gives away thousands of dollars in prizes and giveaways. Holy shit, I thought. A river cleanup that isn’t just a day of getting smelly and sweaty? I followed his progress and stole some of his ideas for promotion of the event. And it worked!
I received donations from Blue Quill Anglers, Fishpond, Trouts, History Colorado Center, NAPA auto parts, Stranahan’s, Frankly Organic Vodka, RepYourWater, Topo Designs, Orvis Cherry Creek, Umpqua, Thrivent Financial, Risers 4 Rett, Riversmith, The Greenway Foundation, close friends and family who wanted to donate, and Prodigy Coffeehouse even donated the coffee! I went hoarse from all the yelling of ticket numbers for prizes and giving of thanks.
This made me realize just how generous businesses could be and their willingness to donate to something so simple. Even more surprising and satisfying was how excited people were to give up their Saturday morning to clean up their river and teach their kids the importance of volunteering. I think the chance to win a Sage fly rod or a bottle of Stranahan’s might have played a role.
One thing you see a lot of on a river is bobbing plastic bottles. Therefore, we held a contest for most plastic bottles collected. The top two prizes took home a Sage Fly Rod and a Riversmith River Quiver. The dedicated individual who won gathered 276 plastic bottles. Second place rounded up 206. There were about ten people trying to win these top prizes and altogether, and over 1,200 plastic bottles were sent to the recycle center by Adams County Parks and Recreation who made four trips to pick up trash bags that day. That dude couldn’t believe it.
Next year we will continue to focus on Clear Creek, but likely a different section. More details to come on that, and we are hoping with our success this year, we gain more amazing sponsorship and volunteers for that event. And hopefully by that time, COVID will be a little more under control and we’ll be able to have another great day of cleaning up after our fellow earthlings.
I’ve sent out Thank You cards and emails, but one more shout out to all those who volunteered and donated doesn’t hurt. My sincerest gratitude to all of you who made the first year of A Cleaner Clear a wonderful success!
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