The Bitter Root Water Forum invites you to help clean up the Bitterroot River on Saturday, August 10th at their annual Bitterroot River Clean Up. Volunteers can sign up for walking sites and floating stretches along the Bitterroot from Sula and Painted Rocks to Missoula. Participants are encouraged to bring the trash they find to the Hamilton River Park where the Water Forum will have a large dumpster and a free BBQ for volunteers from 4 pm – 6 pm. “Since the goal is to clean up the full length of the river, it works best to have people sign up in advance, clean up on their own timeline, and then meet up at a centralized location to drop off trash and celebrate with the BBQ,” says Katie Vennie, Bitter Root Water Forum Program Coordinator.
Since the Water Forum started hosting the event in 2012, nearly 2,000 pounds of trash has been removed from the River each year during the Clean Up, with last year’s total at 2,290 pounds. The Water Forum hopes that a second year of their Clean Up All Year campaign will reduce the amount of trash found in the river this year. Since April, the Water Forum has distributed re-usable river cleanup bags throughout the valley, partnering with local businesses and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks fishing access sites to place bag stands in places frequented by outdoor enthusiasts. “We want to give people a way to manage trash while they’re on the river. If we can prevent trash from getting into the river in the first place, then ideally, we’ll have less to remove during our annual river cleanup,” says Vennie.
The Bitterroot River Clean Up never fails to produce strange finds for volunteers and there will be a trophy for the “Best Trash”. Last year’s winners found a shopping cart BBQ with honorable mentions being a wagon wheel and a gazebo. New this year will also be a photo contest for folks either using Clean Up All Year bags or during the annual clean up.
You can sign up to help by visiting the Bitter Root Water Forum webpage at www.brwaterforum.org, calling the office at 406-375-2272, or stopping in at 178 S 2nd St in Hamilton.
The Water Forum is also hosting a 5K Run/Walk for the River on Friday, August 9th. This scenic course begins and ends in River park and makes its way along the River. Registration is $30 and will include a cotton t-shirt, a beer or ice cream sandwich at the finish line, and a chance to win great prizes. You can register online through the Water Forum webpage, at their office, or at River Park starting at 6:00 pm the day of the race.
The run includes fun activities for kids too. The Splish Splash DASH is a free short run for children ages 10 and under. You can get signed up on Friday August 9th beginning at 6:00pm at River Park. The Dash starts at 6:45pm. The Watershed Trailer from the Bitterroot Conservation District will be up and running from 5:30pm-7:30pm. The trailer is a live-action model of the Bitterroot River that demonstrates how water moves through the landscape.
A pre-event Pint Night at Higherground Brewery will kick off the festivities on Thursday, August 8th from 4:00-7:00pm. One dollar of every beer sold will benefit the Water Forum in bringing the community together to protect, enhance, and restore the watershed we all rely on. Raffle tickets will be available to win great prizes—drawing will be Saturday at the cleanup and you need not be present to win.
Proceeds from all events will help to protect, enhance, and restore the Bitterroot watershed. To get involved, please visit the Water Forum website or call (406) 375-2272 to learn about volunteer opportunities for the events on Friday and Saturday.
Schedule of Events
Thursday, August 8th
Pint Night at Higherground Brewery: 4:00-7:00pm
Friday, August 9th
Splish Splash DASH: 6:45pm; Registration 6:00-6:45pm (Hamilton River Park)
Run for the River 5K: 7:00pm; Registration 6:00-7:00pm (Hamilton River Park)
Watershed Trailer: 5:30-7:30pm
Saturday, August 10th
Bitterroot River Clean-Up: All Day (Volunteers choose when to clean-up)
Volunteer Appreciation BBQ: 4:00-6:00pm (Hamilton River Park)