More than plastic bottles |

More than plastic bottles

Veronica Whitney
Preston Utley/Vail Daily A bag gets filled with cups, bottles and any other miscelaneous items found in the Eagle river on Sunday just east of Eagle-Vail.

Steve Holt said he never thought doing the Eagle River Cleanup was going to be as interesting as it turned out to be.First, there was the weather. At about 1 p.m., the time the 9th annual cleanup began, it started pouring rain and the wind picked up. By 2 p.m. it was 58 degrees.Then, there were the findings along the river.”We thought it would be Styrofoam and plastic bottles,” said Holt, one of 17 employees of the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, to do the cleanup Sunday along a segment of the river in Eagle-Vail.

Instead, the group found tires, car parts, lots of golf balls, paper, plastic, and a part of a kayaking oar. Somebody in Holt’s group even found a fly box that Grant Smith, a local fly fisherman guide, had lost last week while fishing on the river. Holt called Smith when he found a telephone number and a name inside the box.”I had given up hope,” said Smith, of Vail, who lost the box containing flies last week while fishing in the Eagle River. “It made my day.”Holt as hundreds of volunteers Sunday endured the weather during hours to participate in the annual Eagle River Cleanup, one of the biggest volunteer events in the valley that takes care of miles of the valley’s main waterway.

Richelle Quelay, 36, of Edwards organized the Ritz Carlton volunteer group and came with her children. “I organized it because I enjoy the river and my kids use it. I want to raise my kids to be conscious,” said Quelay, who in May also did the highway cleanup with her family. “It teaches the young ones and makes the community aware of what we need to do to keep the river clean.”Although it started raining immediately after the cleanup started, the group persevered.Corinne Farnen, 40, of Edwards, and her children stayed quite dry beacuse they came prepared with rain gear.

“It was a little cold,” said Sam Fernem, 13, with his hair soaked and water running down his face. “But I’ll do it again,” said Sam, who found a tail lamp of a car, and many bottles and cans.Holt, who was wearing his fly fishing gear, even got in the river several times to retrieve stuff from the water.”It’s been a little treacherous with the weather, but it’s been a great day,” Holt said. “The weather has been challenging but we did a good job. We said we were going to do it and we did it.”

Tom Donovan, another volunteer who moved to Eagle five months ago, said he was happy to have helped Sunday.”Tourists come here to see a pristine environment,” he said. “We’ll do it every year.”John Paterson of Edwards said he came out to clean the river because he wanted to get involved in the community. “The weather didn’t participate, but we made a commitment and decided to show up anyway,” said Paterson.

When asked if he was heading to the volunteer recognition party at Brush Creek Pavilion in Eagle, Paterson, who was drenched after two hours under the rain, answered: “First we’ll go change clothes.”Staff writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or Vail, Colorado

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