On Saturday, August 14th volunteers spread out along the full length of the Bitterroot River with one purpose, to clean up. The Bitter Root Water Forum a local non-profit that works to protect, enhance and restore waters in the Bitterroot hosts this annual event the second weekend of August every year.
“We try to clean up the full length of the Bitterroot, with walking sites and floating stretches from Sula and Painted Rocks to Missoula,” says Katie Vennie, Bitter Root Water Forum Communications & Outreach Manager. “This year we had 95 volunteers and only a few areas that weren’t claimed.”
A total of 1,727 pounds of trash were collected this year including 12 tires and a lot of rusty metal. “Most folks reported finding less trash,” said Vennie.
In 2017 the Water Forum started a Clean Up All Year program distributing re-usable river cleanup bags throughout the valley, partnering with local businesses, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks fishing access sites, and city parks to place bag stands in places frequented by outdoor enthusiasts. “Since starting the program our volunteers have reported finding less ‘litter-type’ trash. It seems to allow them the chance to get some of the less obvious pieces that have probably been in the river a long time,” says Vennie. “We got a lot of metal this year.”
Bitterroot Disposal partnered with the Water Forum to help do even more with the Clean Up All Year program this year. “Bitterroot Disposal is proud to sponsor 5,000 river clean up bags to support ongoing efforts to keep our beautiful river free from litter,” said Jen Bernosky, Community Relations Manager for Bitterroot Disposal.
The new bags feature a label to better identify the bags as “Clean Up Bags” and add an opportunity for outreach for the Water Forum and Bitterroot Disposal.
“After years supporting the annual River Clean Up event with donated services, we’re excited to also help encourage river clean up year-round,” said Jessica Murphy, Bitterroot Disposal Operations Manager. Bitterroot Disposal donates a dumpster for the annual Bitterroot River Clean Up every year.