Eagle River Cleanup celebrates 25 years | VailDaily.com

Eagle River Cleanup celebrates 25 years

Nine-year-old Suri Raol, right, displays a shoe she found on Saturday, Sept. 7, in the Eagle River in Edwards.
Special to the Daily

EDWARDS – Joe Macy and Bob Moroney got together again on Saturday in a now 25-year tradition of celebrating a day well spent cleaning up the Eagle River.

The Eagle River Watershed Council’s annual Eagle River Cleanup attracted hundreds of volunteers who formed teams to clean up local waterways including Gore Creek, the Colorado River and the river that connects them, the Eagle.

“The Eagle River starts in Eagle County and ends in Eagle County, and that’s really unusual,” County Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry told volunteers Saturday. “And that river, along with all of you and your volunteer work, is what connects us as a community and as a valley.”

300-400 tires

When the cleanup started, it was a sign-of-the-times effort to reverse a mindset that had once existed in Eagle County.

“Some people, in the early days of Vail, threw their trash in the river,” Macy said.

One of the major traps for that trash has been the flat area near the confluence of Lake Creek and the Eagle River. That section has been home to untold amounts of trash for decades, and a recent effort to remove tires from the riverbed there has unearthed hundreds of them — and a large amount of other trash as well.

Last year, more than 200 tires were removed from the Eagle River near Lake Creek, with approximately 180 of those tires recycled. Neighbors in the area thought they had seen the worst of it.

“But then the runoff came and scrubbed the whole riverbed and uncovered another 300 to 400 tires and a lot of trash,” said Vik Raol, who lives in the area. “We pulled two engine blocks out that were ridiculously large, lots of plastic, and probably 75 shoes.”

Next generation

Raol’s 9-year-old daughter, Suri, was among the winners of the most unusual trash items found in the river Saturday: She discovered a platform suede shoe.

Raol says living near the area brings the responsibility of keeping up a portion of river that has become “literally a catch-all” for the valley’s garbage.

“Without help from our neighbors, we just couldn’t do it,” he said.

But those neighbors aren’t doing it for themselves, Raol added.

“We’re doing it for Suri and her generation,” he said, “so we don’t pass the garbage down to them.”

To learn more about the Eagle River Watershed Council, visit erwc.org.