Volunteers haul junk from Colorado River

Nate Keever rolls a big tire up to a trash dropoff area at the Blue Heron boat launch.

Think about the size of one Dumpster, the kind restaurants and apartment complexes use.

Now think of 10 Dumpsters that size filled to the top with garbage.

That’s about how much junk, 60 cubic yards, that was collected during a cleanup Saturday by volunteers on the ground and floating in boats along the Colorado River.

The group of roughly 50 volunteers in the organization Western Association To Enjoy Rivers, or WATER, marked its seventh year on Saturday of cleaning up the local waterway. As rafters cleaned up along the banks, several other groups picked up litter and garbage between the Colorado Riverfront Trail and the river. Volunteers filled 40 garbage bags in the area under the Fifth Street bridge.

“People think if you chuck it into the river, it goes away,” said Bob Richardson, who organizes WATER. “It goes away from me, but it visits everybody down river.”

Volunteers hauled out 35 tires, one of which had the tire’s rim and axle still attached. Plastic shopping bags were abundant, stuck in trees along the river. Volunteers also fished a mountain bike, steering rods and half a bumper out of the river.

Mesa County donated landfill fees for the group to dispose of trash, and Grand Junction’s Parks and Recreation Department offered to haul off excess bags filled with trash.

On the whole, the amount of junk finding its way into the Colorado River is diminishing, Richardson said. He attributed those gains to the work done by people associated with the Colorado Riverfront Commission and others feeling more connected to the riverfront as access to the river has increased.


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