Our community is large and wildly diverse, which is at the same time our strength and our weakness. #Activate10 is a movement seeking to increase communication between individuals and organizations across Fremont County and to promote positive action in our communities.
Small groups of volunteers (1-3 people) scoured the banks of the Middle Popo Agie River through Lander last week as part of an effort to clean a section of the community’s waterway. The group was organized by Wyoming Rivers Cooperative (WRC), with the assistance of the City of Lander, as well as other local conservation organizations.
The idea was to create a socially distanced river clean up project that adhered to all state and federal regulations regarding group sizes and health protocols due to COVID-19, while strategically targeting areas of the river that needed attention. Volunteers were asked to maintain a distance of 6’ apart while wearing makes and gloves. The groups were broken out into 2-hour time-slots over the course of 4 days — the river sections were broken out accordingly over that time period; starting at the Chamber of Commerce and the Pronghorn Lodge and ending at the public access on East Eugene Street.
It is important to note that much of this river section consists of privately owned land, and thus this clean up would not have been possible without the permission and support of landowners and business owners along the river. Trash was pulled from the river corridor and placed into a dump trailer provided by the City of Lander. Nearly 2,500 lbs of trash and metal were pulled from the river.
“I think that especially during these trying times, it is important to notice the spaces we occupy and reconnect to them in meaningful ways,” said WRC Owner Elyse Guarino. “The pandemic provides space to reflect on what we want our home-river to be for the people of the Popo Agie Watershed.”
“As a new business owner and someone who has worked in both outfitting and conservation, I’ve seen the value in creating relationships with local landowners and businesses,” said WRC Owner Lander Blanchard. Our small communities function better when we support each other. Thank you to all those who supported this project.”
For decades, the Middle Popo Agie has been asked to do a lot — from providing for agriculture, municipal needs (including drinking water), recreation, as well as creating habitat for plants, wildlife, and fish species — it’s time that we give back to this resource that provides so much for us. A river clean up can be a small drop in the bucket but it’s a step towards creating a cultural shift that puts clean water, functioning ecosystems, and community needs at the forefront of our collective focus.
“This clean-up successfully created greater awareness among the participants and the people we encountered along the Popo Agie to the human impacts that have damaged sections of this river and have previously been overlooked,” Elyse said.
WRC and our partners, including the Popo Agie Conservation District and their Healthy River Initiative, are excited to organize a larger and more public river clean up later in the Summer or in early Fall, with the hope of connecting even more people to the Popo Agie, our hometown river. You can sign up for rivers news and updates, as well as view our latest blog posts at wyorivers.com/news.