They came with snorkels and fins. They came with gloves. But most importantly, they came with garbage bags.
Hoping to preserve the pristine beauty of the Blackfoot River, more than 130 volunteers gathered for the sixth annual river cleanup on July 25.
As the concerned citizens (including many from the BLM Missoula Field Office) scoured the river bottom and river banks, the garbage started to pile up.
Rafters, scuba divers, snorkelers and folks from every walk of life spent the day gathering 1,551 aluminum cans, 178 plastic bottles, 89 shoes, 72 glass bottles, 24 pairs of sunglasses, 14 inner tubes, 11 hats, one toaster, one bowling shoe (size 11), and one inflatable doll (adult).
In an effort to avoid the cold water of September, this National Public Lands Day event is always held the last Saturday in July.
This is the second year that event organizers say they have recovered significantly less trash. The reduction is most likely the result of a long high-water period that kept the river rough and cold and discouraged early season inner tubers and their trash deposits. The BLM and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks—which co-manage the river--believe that the BLM’s free mesh trash bags are helping keep the river clean by giving tubers a convenient method to contain their beer cans. The visible law enforcement presence and stiff fines also seem to help deter river litterbugs.
This annual event would not be possible without the close partnerships that are the hallmark of the Blackfoot Valley. In this case, our sincere thanks go out to the highly motivated ladies of the Blackfoot Home and Community Club.