Want to make an immediate and far-reaching impact on the environment in Colorado Springs? Consider volunteering an hour or two in the Creek Week Cleanup, happening Sept. 25 – Oct. 3. The nine-day cleanup offers citizens of all ages and abilities the concerted opportunity to help make trails, parks, open spaces and waterways in the Pikes Peak region cleaner and safer. All you have to do is pick up litter during one of the 80 Creek Week Cleanup events.
“Our watershed is an important community asset. Keeping it clean and healthy might be the most important thing we can do to protect our wild spaces and preserve the things we value like fishing, hiking and biking,” says Bill Banks, executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.
The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District is a special district spanning 927 square miles from Palmer Lake to Pueblo. The district’s work protects the people and property of the region through flood control, development of trails and recreational spaces, protecting wetland open space, maintaining clean water and engaging the community with events like Creek Week.
Creek Week is Colorado’s largest watershed-wide cleanup, and it helps to raise awareness of the many issues facing the watershed. It also provides an opportunity to connect citizens across jurisdictional lines, both up and down stream.
“I think people are surprised that there are creeks in their backyard,” says Alli Schuch, watershed outreach coordinator for the Watershed District. “It’s a great way to connect people to our waterways and help them to understand that all the land and water funnel down to a common point—and that’s the Arkansas River in Pueblo.”
Schuch points out that our impact on our local waterways goes even farther than that. “The Arkansas river in Pueblo ultimately makes it to the Gulf of Mexico,” she says. “The things we’re doing positively or negatively in our land and waters here not only impact us locally, but all the way downstream to the ocean.”
Unfortunately, trash and debris are common, clogging drainage systems, impacting wildlife, affecting water quality and ruining the view of our natural landscapes. In the last seven years, volunteers during Creek Week have removed more than 100 tons of litter from the watershed.
Often, that trash comes in strange or unexpected forms. Schuch says Creek Week volunteers have found all sorts of unexpected items, including cash, a safe, a scooter they took home for the kids, half an unopened case of beer and a deer leg.
“We live in this gorgeous environment, but all the litter really takes away from the natural beauty that we all love here,” Schuch says.
She says it’s rewarding to see the immediate results of Creek Week cleanups. “Everybody makes their own trash mountain at the end of their day,” she says. “When you multiply that by a hundred different groups, it’s a measurable impact that we have with this program.”
Interested volunteers can contact a Crew Leader directly to sign up. About 80 cleanups will take place over the nine-day program. Some specific groups each year sponsor and fill letters for the collaborative Arts Month Litter Letter Project. Others are organized by private business, community or nonprofit groups, while many are open to the public.
Learn more about the cleanup activities and opportunities during the week-long Creek Week Cleanup at www.fountain-crk.com/register.