Members of our Volunteer River Corps (VRC) are always ready to roll up their sleeves for the river. From collecting snowpack data to removing trash from riverbanks to restoring riparian areas, the VRC is active all year round. There is something for everyone, and although it can be hard work, it’s also a lot of fun, it feels great, and you meet some wonderful folks along the way. One of these wonderful folks is Loren Pinski. Loren has been volunteering with us since 2010 and recently he took some time to chat with us about why he volunteers for the Clark Fork.
What brought you to Missoula and what is your connection to the Clark Fork River?
I came to Missoula to go to college back in 1967. Those were the days when you didn’t go down to the Clark Fork River, you drove over it, but you didn’t go down to it. You had very little access to it. People, they might fish down where the Rattlesnake came in, but that was it, you didn’t go down there.
It’s pretty cool how we are cleaning up the river and how the whole river has been transformed. The changes that have taken place in town. The park running through town is incredible. When I came here there was a teepee burner down where Silver Park is pumping smoke into the air. Living in Missoula in the wintertime was like smoking a pack a day, that’s what it was like!
What are your concerns about the heath of the river?
One of the things I really like about the Clark Fork Coalition and the work you’re doing is, if you know anything about history you always know there have been water wars, some have been fought with spears, some fought with guns, some in the courts. And there will always be different organizations that want the water from the watershed. Whether it’s for fishing, or for agriculture, or for livestock, or to dilute chemicals, or to hide peoples’ couches like we found out last weekend at the Deep Creek cleanup.
The thing I like about you guys is that your emphasis is the river, the quality of the river, and maintaining the quality of the river for a variety of different uses. It’s a holistic approach, and a very basic approach. Your agenda is to make the Clark Fork drainage, whether it’s Rock Creek, or Deer Lodge, or the Flat Head, or the Blackfoot as viable a watershed as possible these days. And with climate change coming about, and I’ve seen its impact in other parts of the world, the kind of stuff you guys are doing is more important. So if I can help out a little bit, I’ll help out a little bit!
Do you feel your work as a volunteer has impact?
Oh yeah, I’m retired and looking for ways not only to give back, but to be active and be part of the community. To go out and clean up a bunch of garbage from along the river, that’s pretty important stuff. To go out and help plant trees, help water trees to keep them alive from where a burn went through several years ago. To me that’s very important work and it makes you feel good.
Just jump in and do it! There are plenty of opportunities for people to jump in, especially with the cleanups. You guys are a pretty easy group to volunteer with. It’s a group of nice people. Katie’s great to work with. Just volunteer.
Want to take Loren’s advice and get involved with the Clark Fork Coalition’s Volunteer River Corps? Fill out an application or get in touch with Katie at email@example.com to ask questions, learn about upcoming projects, or to sign up for our volunteer email list.
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