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Sunday, May 29, 2011

2011 river cleanup a swooshing success

On Saturday, May 21, between 8:00am and 1:00pm, approximately 130 volunteers walked and paddled along the Rio Grande River collecting an estimated total of 2640 pounds of trash. Another 45 uniformed Albuquerque Police Department Officers cleaned up 20 illegal campsites along the river.

Volunteers also worked diligently to sort recyclables into five full bags of number one and two plastics, two additional bags of aluminum cans, two large boxes of un-broken, uncontaminated glass bottles and one large bundle of uncontaminated corrugated cardboard, according to an email received from Kent R. Swanson, Associate Planner for the City of Albuquerque's Open Space Division.

"All together, I'd estimate that our three groups collected over a ton of debris - numerous tires, including a tractor tire, several chairs, two huge swimming pool covers, and an unbelievable amount of assorted trash," stated Swanson in an email.

34 volunteers from the Quite Waters Paddling Adventures groups, a group of volunteers who uses canoes and rafts to collect trash in the river, organized cleanups along several sections of the river according to the same email. The sections tackled were located at Romero Road to Alameda Bridge, Central Avenue to Bridge through Albuquerque, led by Stephen Verchinski from New Mexico State Parks and Highway 550 to Romero Road, led by river guide Steve Wallace. 12 of the volunteers from the Romero Road to Alameda Bridge group were from Therese Dorwart's Discovery Class from East Mountain High School. City of Rio Rancho Fire Chief Anthony Martinez and two firemen from the Village of Corrales Fire Department also participated in the Romero Road to Alameda Bridge clean up.

In a phone interview prior to the clean up, Swanson stressed the importance of the community uniting to preserve two national treasures, the Bosque and the Rio Grande. The Bosque is the worlds largest Cottonwood forests and home to an impressive array of migratory birds. Unfortunately many people throw trash off the rivers bridges which ends up in the river or along the Bosque. Swanson feels that most of this dumping can be prevented through education and making recycling more accessible to people since a large percentage of the dumped trash is recyclable.

"The City (of Albuquerque) has a good recycling program and it's easier than before for more people to take advantage of it," said Swanson.

The City of Albuquerque's Open Space Division credits the following partners and sponsors:

      -  Kirtland Air force base Outdoor Recreation (breakfast food and rafting guides)
¨      APD (Lt. Gilhooly and Deputy Chief Paul Feist)
¨      The Crisis Outreach and Support Team and the Crisis Intervention Team of APD
¨      Albuquerque Fire Department
¨      City of Rio Rancho and the Village of Corrales
¨      Quiet Waters Paddling Adventures
¨      Ciudad Soil and Water
¨      Open Space Trail watch Volunteers
      ¨      Diana Breneiser (Volunteer Recycling Coordinator

¨      Bruce Davis and the Rotary Club of Albuquerque
¨      Pat and Barbara Baca of the West Central Alliance of Neighbors
¨      The Open Space Alliance
¨      REI
¨      Weston Corporation
¨      Stone Age Climbing Gym
¨      The Kickstand
¨      General Mills
¨      I Scream Ice Cream
¨      Nicodemus Wilderness Project
¨      2 Wheel Drive

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