Saturday morning dawned sunny and clear on April 18th, a perfect day to walk the banks of the river in search of the weirdest trash. While trash isn’t usually on the list of collectible river treasures, our Annual Clark Fork Cleanup in Missoula makes caring for the river fun by giving prizes for the most notable waste removed from the banks of the river. And, boy, did the Clark Fork Coalition’s 700+ volunteers turn up some doozies during our 2015 cleanup! Top contenders for the “best trash” prize included a Christmas tree and a mannequin adorned with a plastic-bag necklace.
From toddlers to retirees, a diverse set of helping hands pitched in to clean up the river we all love. Teams of citizens met at Caras Park at 9AM and then dispersed along 15 miles of riverbanks in Missoula. The complimentary coffee and motivational pep talk by Mayor Engen fueled the volunteers into conservation action–in just a few hours, our citizen brigade collected 5,000 pounds of trash. These numbers tell the story of the heavy lifting accomplished by the young and not-so-young volunteers who scoured the banks of the Clark Fork:
- 2.5 tons of trash
- 1,718 lbs. of total recyclables
- 650 lbs. of iron and tin
- 53 lbs. of aluminum
- 80 lbs. of cardboard
- 300 lbs. of plastics
- 120 lbs. of glass
- 50 lbs. of office paper
- 15 lbs. of plastic bags
- 450 lbs. of tires
- 1 Christmas tree
After mucking about on river banks and hauling in their collected trash booty, our volunteers were rewarded with a delicious barbeque lunch in the park and commemorative CFC water bottles. While attendees devoured pulled pork sandwiches, the Coalition staff drew the names of four lucky winners who received a cool prize for participating: Simms jacket from Kingfisher Fly Shop, Patagonia jacket from the Trail Head, a tent from R.E.I., and a gift certificate from Montana Downtown Association.
Trash trophies aside, this year’s event was important for bringing people together to celebrate the river that sustains our communities and way of life. We’re humbled, as always, by the dedication and passion demonstrated by the hundreds of people who donate time and energy to keeping our hometown river clean and healthy.
If you missed out on the fun this year, no worries. We’re already planning how to collect even more trash from the Clark Fork River during the 2016 cleanup, and you can sign up for next year’s event. Thanks to the many local sponsors who made this year’s Clark Fork Cleanup a fun and productive event:
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