It had become a point of pride for volunteers to fill a dumptruck full of garbage during their annual Shoshone River cleanup. But now pride is found in the fact that the effort on the Shoshone has been so efficient, volunteers can fan out to clean new public areas.
The tradition has been handled for the past few years by Adiposse, a younger, lightly structured angler’s group. Members of the East Yellowstone Chapter of Trout Unlimited and volunteers from around Park County lend a hand, but the Posse handles logistics.
Ian Morrison, elected president of Adiposse in February, was happy with the turnout on Sunday, considering the original clean-up date was rescheduled due to weather. He feels it’s important to continue the tradition.
“We want to clean up the heavy use areas before we start seeing a lot of traffic,” Morrison said.
Morrison loves to fish the Shoshone and wants others to find the same pristine river he’s learned to love. But on two March trout fishing floats, bagging litter along the way, he doubted they would fill the back of a pickup truck this year, he said. So he sent crews to East and West Newton lakes for the first time.
Birney Holberg was pleasantly surprised by how clean the banks of West Newton Lake appeared as he walked the banks. There were bait styrofoam containers and bottles and cans here and there, but not enough to fill his bag more than half full. Holberg said the next big challenge for organizations is attracting more youth to community service.
“We need to instill more respect for our resources in the next generation,” he said.
Much of what was found, Holberg thought, could have been easily tossed in a garbage can. But he said adults will do what they were taught when they were kids. He has high hopes for new groups, like Adiposse, to bring the kids back to community service.
“We weren’t that much different than kids are now, but at least we tried to hit the [trash] can,” Holberg said.
Steve Yekel, former Game and Fish Cody Region fisheries supervisor and Trout Unlimited member, agrees. He thinks the best bet for the future is to invite school groups and youth clubs to community service events. But Yekel also remembers when the idea to do a river cleanup was floated and their tasks were much more labor intensive.
“We were trying remove car bodies and use heavy equipment to rid the river of floating hazards,” he said while walking the water’s edge.
Now there are the inevitable Walmart bags, he said, but it’s getting much better. Yekel credits the angler’s groups for much of the work but also thinks outfitters have pitched in while out on the job as well.
“This is the first year we’ve been able to come out to the [Newton] lakes to clean,” Yekel said.
Morrison was happy to have the manpower to spread out, thanks to the hard work over the years. There were the usual donuts and coffee, but this year the cleaning crews may have started a whole new tradition.
“We put a big dent in the large debris last year,” he said.
It’s all for a good cause; the Shoshone River is an important resource in Park County, Morrison said. “It’s an interesting river and it’s nice we have it right here in Cody.”