Volunteers talk trash at Fryingpan cleanup | PostIndependent.com

Volunteers talk trash at Fryingpan cleanup

There’s no telling what might turn up during the annual Fryingpan River Cleanup.So many strange things get pulled from the river and its banks that there are awards – best of trash, most toxic, most useful, most unusual.With more than 100 people Saturday, the competition was fierce but friendly. It was only 9 in the morning when one competitor walked up to Tim O’Keefe, educational director for the event organizer, Roaring Fork Conservancy, with a potential prize-winner.”Here’s what’s going to get us best in show,” said Bruce Gabow, holding up a sealed Monte Cristo cigar that his son, Kalen, found in front of a “Welcome fishermen” sign.Indeed, where does all the trash come from? Some of the stuff that comes out – from Basalt to the Ruedi Reservoir – is hard to believe.”Most of the major stuff is out of the area,” said O’Keefe, referring to the event’s eight years, “but you’d be amazed at the amount of trash that comes out.”Last year, the most toxic winner was two V8 engine blocks in the river. A truck winched the things out. “One year we found a big crescent wrench,” said Rick Lofaro, the executive director of Roaring Fork Conservancy. “I used it later that day.”Young Jasper Coen was making his first appearance at the cleanup this year. Strapped to his mommy’s tummy, this 4-month-old came out to make a difference.”This is our fourth year,” said his mom, Andrea Coen, who said the weirdest piece of trash she has found was part of a roll bar off a Jeep last year.”These are weird things where a bumper falls off and ends up in the river,” O’Keefe said. “Do people just not notice?”The prizes, and indeed the whole event, fit into the larger Roaring Fork Conservancy goal of education.”It’s such a great community event, with a very social crowd,” O’Keefe said. “It’s building community, and it’s also building awareness.”After the cleanup is over, Eagle County picks up the trash because the conservancy has adopted the entire area. A few other groups also help out. Back Door Catering donates some time and food. Waste Solutions donates a trash bin. And, of course, a hundred or so volunteers come out to pick up trash. The Roaring Fork Conservancy, founded in 1996, is a nonprofit watershed conservation organization. It focuses on education, water quality and monitoring, managing a land trust and researching water issues. Contact Joel Stonington: jstonington@aspentimes.com

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