Finding what doesn’t belong in the river | VailDaily.com

Finding what doesn’t belong in the river

Nicole Frey

Preston Utley/Vail DailyEd Lewandowski of Avon stuffs some random garbage into his sack Sunday during the annual Eagle river clean up.

EAGLE COUNTY – T-shirts, car bumpers, plastic cups they can all be found in the Eagle River, though they shouldn’t be there. Hundreds are preparing to take action about the litter in and around the river during the 10th annual Eagle River Cleanup on Saturday.

“It creates an awareness in the people in the community,” said Mary Claire Van Dyke, who participated in the first cleanup and now works for the organizer, the Eagle River Watershed Council, a watchdog environmental organization. “We’re making sure the growth in this part of Colorado does not adversely impact our resources,” she said.The cleanups have kept the trash at bay, said Bill Carlson, Vail’s environmental health officer and planner. While there isn’t more trash than the year before, there also isn’t less, which he attributed to the river’s location along busy Interstate 70, he said.

“Some people just aren’t as sensitive to the environment as others,” said Carlson, who will participate in his fourth cleanup tidying a mile of Gore Creek. “The environment is one of our precious resources and needs to be protected. It’s a goal that we want to be part of and, of course, have as much fun as possible.”Trying to merge community service with some soggy fun, Caroline Haines with the Snowboard Outreach Society’s university program will bring 80 students with her to kick off the snowboarding club’s season for the second year in a row.”A big component of the program is community outreach and getting the kids out in the community,” she said. “It’s something that affects everyone in the community, and we enjoy that it’s an outdoor program as well and really hands on.”On a personal note, Haines said, the cleanup is dear to her because she believes water is the essence of life.”The river is a little bit of a life blood,” she said. “It’s amazing to see what ends up down there. It’s a treasure hunt to some degree, sloshing around down there, trying to see what you can find.”At the head of the game, Caroline Bradford, director of the watershed council, is proud the cleanup is purely for the benefit of the environment and not a fund-raiser. Volunteers are rewarded with a party and prizes when the day’s work is done.”The party brings people together with no particular fund-raising goal in mind,” Bradford said. “We’re all just coming together to beautify this gorgeous river, connecting physically to a river that we’re already psychologically connected to.”

Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or nfrey@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado