2022 River Clean Up: Stories from the Field

This year roughly 100 volunteers joined forces to pull nearly 2,000 pounds of litter from the Bitterroot River, leaving it in a better state for both people and wildlife. You’re used to hearing from us, so we thought we would share some stories from the field… Ahoy! More Trash Ahead!

By Becky L.

Shelby (our dog), Doug (my husband), and myself set out along the river, partially in the thickets and partially on narrow trails. Our biggest find was a fish trap — which is illegal for native fish. We saw a curious circle of stones in the river — a druid sacrificial site? A Native American sundial for native peoples to tell time when they went rowing by? A watery grave for an unknown boater? It’s a mystery.

Shelby trotted up ahead, signaling trash with one bark, recyclable cans and plastic bottles with two barks, and no sound at all when she found bags of fast food remnants with some crusty french fries stuck to the paper. Eager to earn extra points, she scanned by land and by sea, wading and swimming in the river to inspect likely looking places for debris caught against logs by the current.

She then tugged me over to the grills in three picnic sites, and we filled our bags with recyclables and trash. She had a special interest in all the sites people made potty places in the bushes, so I was glad I wore gloves! The Rotary Club has posted a sign that they no longer have trash pick-up there, so it was nice to clean up the picnic areas. All in all, it only took an hour with two humans and one canine working pretty steadily. We took the recyclables home but put the full trash bag in the roll off at River Park. 

Thanks for organizing this event! 

– Becky, Doug, and Her Highness Princess Shelby

A Good Morning on the Bitterroot

By Doug N.

Karen and I don’t get out on the Bitterroot often so we were excited when the Bitterroot Water Forum inspired us to get out on the River August 13th. We determined we would float from Wally Crawford to Anglers Roost, made a plan for an early start, packed our 3 weight and went to bed anticipating a successful day.

August 13th at the crack of noon we left the Farmers Market with lunch in hand and drove to Wally Crawford, rigged our 3 weight Tributary Striker II and put on the river. The river was void of other boaters and the sun was out, the success of the day wasn’t going to be determined by our catch. About an hour in Karen spotted a flash of red and we successfully landed our first trash specie. Plastic in the form of a red and white bobber tucked between a couple rocks below the railroad riprap. We celebrated that the day would not leave us “skunked”. But the real lunker came an hour further down stream below Sleeping Child Diversion. 

Our second species of the day, a rubber 47” diameter truck tire pulled from a small root ball. Now a 47” tire is quite a haul in an of itself, but on a 3 weight Tributary Striker II it was feat. It took a lot of team handling, but we landed the tire on the Striker IK. Feeling great success we continued toward Anglers Roost where just prior, we landed our third trash specie, an aluminum Olympia beer can (Tall). A fine finish to a successful day.

Now, I know a lot of the old timers will tell you the trash hauling used to be much better in past years. And they’re probably right. We only caught one each of three species. There used to be plenty more. I suppose we have organizations like the Bitter Root Water Forum to thank for the popularity of clean up and for the decrease of in trash in our River. And I’m thankful for them.

We had a great day on a really spectacular piece of water.

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