BLM boat helps clean the Colorado

A BLM support boat contributes to a river cleanup in 2018. [Photo courtesy Bureau of Land Management]

Enjoy a free day floating the Colorado River while helping to remove trash from its water and shores during the Colorado River “Daily” Clean-up on Saturday, Sept. 7.

The annual project is led by Canyonlands Field Institute (CFI), in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Utah Department of Natural Resources.

“The Hittle Bottom to BLM takeout is one of the most used sections of the Colorado River by commercial and private users,” CFI Development Director Kate Niederehe said.

“One of our values at CFI is to responsibly care for our wild places, so we love to host this volunteer event,” she said.

Over the years, past clean-up efforts have removed tires, televisions, a massive culvert, mattresses, a couch and a huge number of plastic water bottles.

Trash in the river poses hazards to both humans and wildlife. The Colorado River is home to several threatened and endangered species which rely on the riparian habitat to raise their young, like the yellow-billed cuckoo and southwestern willow flycatcher.

People who wish to volunteer for the river clean-up can meet at CFI (1320 S. Hwy 191) at 8 a.m. for a ride to the launch site. Volunteers can also meet CFI staff at Hittle Bottom at 9 a.m. Launch time is scheduled for 9:30-10 a.m.

The all-day trip will end at 4 p.m. at the BLM takeout on State Route 128, where there will be a dump truck waiting to take the debris. Participants can expect to be back at CFI by 5 p.m. CFI will provide safety gear and lunch at Onion Beach.

Boaters will retrieve as much trash as possible from the river and shore. And, if there’s time, volunteers will also attempt to remove campfire coals from the beaches, packing it out with other garbage.

The BLM is bringing a 14-foot cataract boat to carry large trash items.

“We’re also hoping to bring paddle boats and duckies because they’re easily maneuvered to reach trash items,” Niederehe said.

Moab’s Solid Waste Special Service District #1 has agreed to accept trash and recyclable items collected that day for free.

“It is great to see several federal, state and local entities who are coming together to care for the beautiful Colorado River Daily,” Niederehe said. “We are so happy that the community is coming together to care for our wild places.”

Private boaters are welcome to join the clean-up effort, although they should let CFI know if they’d like to be included for lunch.

"The BLM appreciates the river community, volunteers, partners, and outfitter and guiding companies, such as Canyonlands Field Institute, for fostering a sense of stewardship by sponsoring river clean-up efforts,” BLM Moab Acting Field Manager Brian Mueller said.

“We ask a lot of our rivers. They support communities like Moab by providing jobs, recreation, clean water, wildlife and fish habitat, and it’s imperative that we help take care of them.”