Do a good deed in good company, and get some time on the river while you’re at it.
Moab-based nonprofit Canyonlands Field Institute is hosting a river cleanup along a section of a well-loved portion of the Colorado River known as The Daily, a roughly 13-mile stretch that runs parallel to State Route 128 (also known as the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway) and is famous for its striking scenery.
The trip is open to ages six and older. As a pandemic safety precaution, the trip is limited this year to 12 participants.
Volunteers will meet at the CFI office (1320 S. Hwy 191) at 8 a.m. and depart shortly thereafter for the Rocky Rapid boat ramp. After an introduction and safety discussion, the service trip will kick off at around 9:30 a.m.
CFI guides will lead volunteers down the river in rafts; the group will use gloves and trash bags to clear litter from water, campgrounds, and banks of the river. The trip will conclude at the BLM Take-Out boat ramp about seven miles down the river at about 4 p.m.
CFI calls the event “a day of boating, bonding, and cleaning up.”
CFI Marketing and Communications Director Resford Rouzer said one thing that makes this trip “really fun” is the learning that happens along the way. CFI naturalist staff will discuss the ecology of the river corridor, and partners from the Bureau of Land Management and the Utah Department of Natural Resources will discuss the river management done by their respective agencies.
Rouzer said previous trips have yielded hundreds of pounds of trash. The most common type of garbage is plastic containers used for food and drink.
“There’s always plastic,” he said, adding that aluminum cans are also common.
He’s also seen a fair amount of flip flops and construction debris, speculating that the types of trash may be a bit different this year since there was “not much of a high water.”
This year, rather than cleaning the whole Daily, CFI decided to focus on a portion so the group has time to clean campsites and pick up very small pieces of garbage. Rouzer cited plastics breaking down into “micro-trash” as being a hazard for wildlife who can ingest it.
“All these plastics and metal can affect wildlife that can eat it….some animals choke on it,” Rouzer said. “The more we get out now, the less animals will eat it.”
He added that trash negatively impacts people as well.
“It’s never fun to step on an aluminum can,” he said.
Rouzer said the trip is an expression of CFI’s value of “reciprocity” and its mission to “provide quality outdoor education on the Colorado Plateau, to inspire care of wild places, and renew the human spirit.”
“CFI wants to give back to our landscape that we get to use, that we value,” he said.
Participants should bring a personal PPE face-covering, refillable water bottles, sun protection, closed-toed shoes or sandals with ankle straps, and should wear clothes that can get wet.
Lifejackets are required and will be provided by CFI, along with lunch, water and transportation – although participants may use their own transportation if they prefer.
Volunteers can earn $15 of credit per hour of volunteer work to be used toward outdoor education programs like the Cedar Mesa and Bears Ears archaeology trip next month, in which participants travel by vehicle and short hikes to explore the archaeology of the area with guest experts. The credit may also be applied to other adult seminars or youth summer camps.
More information can be found at www.cfimoab.org or by calling the CFI office at 435-259-7750.