Cleaning the Colorado River

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As the weather continues to get warmer, more and more Grand Valley residents are looking to the Colorado River for some Spring Fun. But some boaters say when they get there, all they see is a river corridor full of trash. Saturday, one group tried to change that.

"The Colorado is definitely my favorite," said boater Chris Pahler. "Running the big rapids down at West Water and even just floating through town, relaxing, and having a nice day."

Pahler has rafted along the Colorado River for years. He says he loves spending time in the water and seeing all the beauty and life it has to offer. Beauty that has been infiltrated by trash.

Friday, Pahler, the Water Club, a local boy scout troop and other volunteers took steps to change that.

"We're picking up trash tires and things like that to keep the area clean so everyone can enjoy it," said Pahler.

The target of their efforts: the stretch of the river between River Bend Park and Corn lake.

The group would pull off to the riverbanks every couple of yards to look for trash. They found common pieces of litter like plastic bottles and pieces of Styrofoam. But that was only the beginning.

"Every year, there's something more interesting that somebody finds," said Pahler.

In past years, the group says it found things like 55 gallon barrels and a kitchen sink. There was no shortage of interesting things that were found this year.

"We got a big railroad tie," said boater John Denison. "That was probably the heaviest thing. "We also got a broken chair and a couple of sacks full of little things."

"We found an old car fender that looks like it was from off of a truck or car from the forties," said Boyscout Troop 303 leader Paul Kattnig. "We also found what looked like an old swamp cooler, and an intact tire off a semi truck complete with break drummers."

In some cases, they found even bigger things that they simply couldn't fit on their rafts.

"I guess we even found a cab off of a truck, but we had to leave that," said Kattnig. "We couldn't bring it anywhere."

By the end of the trip, dozens of bags of trash, large pieces of pipe and scrap metal, and a semi tire made their way into dumpsters. Even though their rafts were full of garbage, volunteers say they believe they've made progress since they began cleanup efforts four years ago.

"We were hoping to find a lot more trash than we did," said Kattnig. "But that's good, because we didn't find as much trash as we thought we might."

A worthwhile cause, they say, so that everyone can enjoy the beauty of the river.

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