Boaters, land crew gear up for annual Colo. River clean-up |

Boaters, land crew gear up for annual Colo. River clean-up

Sharon Sullivan
During last year's Colorado River Clean Up day, volunteers gathered 40 bags of trash which they hauled out by boats.
Lee Gelatt |


9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10

Sign-up: Whitewater West, 970-241-0441


Organizers provide trash bags, state park entry tags, T-shirts, appreciation BBQ.

You bring gloves, bucket for sharp items, wire cutters, raft/canoe/kayak, old tarp to protect your boat.

Bob Richardson has found some pretty interesting things while participating in the annual Colorado River clean-up day. During last year’s tidy-up of the river and its banks, boaters rescued a nearly dead dog who, after being nursed back to health, was eventually reunited with its owner thanks to a microchip implanted in the pet.

Another time, while Richardson was scouting the river ahead of the boaters, he came across an abandoned freezer full of spoiled meat, discarded nearby the old rendering plant where Brady Trucking now stands.

“It was extremely gross,” — the city took care of removing that item, Richardson said.

Around the Palisade area, Richardson often finds numerous golf discs, in which frisbee golfers apparently missed their intended targets inside the Riverbend Park disc golf course.

Richardson has found training dummies — or throw toys for dogs — “those I keep,” he said.

There’s always the ubiquitous plastic bottles, cans, soaked gritty blankets from abandoned camps, and dozens of tires. Richardson secures a community enhancement grant every other year that covers the dump fee for disposing the tires. On the alternate years, the Bureau of Land Management applies for and gets the grant to cover the disposal costs.

“Tires were used for many years upstream for erosion control,” Richardson said.

One year, the clean-up crew found even a kitchen sink.

For the past nine years on a day in August, volunteers have brought their rafts, kayaks, canoes and duckies to float and clean-up the river and its shores. Started by Whitewater West owners Pete and Monica Atkinson, Richardson has organized the event for the past eight years.

If you don’t have a boat, you can still help out. There’s a land crew as well.

“I usually end up with about 50 people, and 15 to 20 boats,” Richardson said.

Typically, the clean-up crew floats from Palisade to Fruita; although this year due to low water, the group plans to put in at the Blue Heron Boat ramp in the Redlands, ending at Fruita State Park. Another group simultaneously will float the section between Fruita State Park and Loma.

A group that calls themselves “Humanists doing Good” has volunteered again this year to tidy up the river bank in the Riverside area.

Richardson is looking for additional volunteers to join the core group of river lovers who typically work the event each year. They start at the put-ins at 10 a.m. and usually finish around 3 p.m., he said. There’s a free barbecue and T-shirts for the volunteers once the work is done.

“In the past, we usually get around 20 cubic yards of trash (roughly 40 bags),” Richardson said.

Plastic trash bags are donated by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The city and private businesses also pitch in to cover expenses.

People can sign up for the Aug. 10 clean-up day by calling 970-245-4604, or e-mail Registration helps organizers plan for the barbecue and T-shirts.

“I’ve always loved the river,” Richardson said. “The river is a huge asset in this area and we should take care of it.

“It’s got to be kept clean.”

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