Splashing in: Volunteers collect trash from Fraser River
Trekking through willows and wading into icy waters, gloved volunteers with trash bags in hand kept their eyes glued to the ground as they moved along the Fraser River.
Roughly 45 people of all ages went out to help clean up a section of the scenic space in the Fraser Valley, featuring yellowing trees and snow dusted mountains on Saturday morning.
The Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited hosted the river cleanup, something they’ve been doing since 2004. Before the group headed out, chapter president Kirk Klancke explained why Trout Unlimited hosts these types of events.
“Our mission statement is to conserve, protect and restore the coldwater fisheries,” Klancke said. “What we’re doing here today is part of the restoration process.”
The masked volunteers were divided into groups where they were able to socially distance as each took on a section of the Fraser River from the Lions Ponds to the Rendezvous area. Those with waders walked the river while folks in hiking boots moved through the thick willows on either bank.
“I want to thank you for having an interest in our rivers,” Klancke added before sending off everyone for a couple hours of trash collecting.
This was the first time in three years that this section of the Fraser River had seen a clean up, but trash pickings were slimmer than they had been in the past. Previous years brought a car frame, stove pipe and bed springs out of the river.
Saturday’s volunteers did find a cellphone, a chair and plenty of discarded plastic bags. While people seem to be doing better about picking up after themselves, volunteers were still fixated on doing their part.
Krystil Parish, a part-time resident in Grand County, was one such volunteer. When asked about her two hours spent out on the river, Parish gestured to her wet and muddy jeans.
“Well, look at my pants,” Parish laughed. “It was fun, and it was a great way to spend a Saturday morning.”
John Oles joined Parish for the cleanup and said that while some rubber boots may have been handy for navigating the willows, picking up litter is something the two do often.
“When we hike, she’s always spotting all the trash everywhere and shoving it in my pack,” he said.
The Saturday outing was just another way for Parish to give back to the environment.
“When you’re out and about and you see litter, it makes you sad — and mad,” Parish said. “Picking up stuff is a good help … That’s the way I grew up and I intend to stay that way.”
After the cleanup, volunteers discarded their trash bags before enjoying a free lunch and grabbing a couple “Save the Fraser River” bumper stickers.
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