A RIVER still runs through the city of Missoula, Montana and folks here are once again preparing to spend a day making sure that while it's running it doesn't do so through litter and debris.
For the ninth spring in a row, Missoulians will gather along the river to spend a morning picking littler from its banks. In return, the workers will get free coffee, a sense of community pride and clean river banks. Judging from the turnout every year, there are hundreds of city residents who feel they are adequately compensated for their efforts.
The Clark Fork River flows through the heart of Missoula and is the focus of much fun during the summer season. Concerts are held along it, floaters, kayakers, anglers and even an occasional surfer play on it and the walking paths following its route oftentimes are crowded with walkers and cyclists.
Unfortunately, all of the activity leaves behind a significant amount of trash. So every spring Missoulians gather in a flurry of activity to clean up their mess. They do a fine job.
Last year, more than 600 volunteers removed 3,000 pounds of trash within a few hours. The effort focuses on a 15-mile stretch of the river reaching from East Missoula to Kelly Island.
The activity is a combined effort of community members and the Clark Fork Coalition, a conservation group dedicated to preserving the river and its environment. City businesses also donate to the effort.
The work typically begins at 10 a.m. with workers fueling up with free coffee and donuts. By noon the bulk of the volunteers are already back downtown enjoying a free barbecue.
To join the effort, simply show up in work clothes at Caras Park by 10 a.m. Brings the kids, it is intended to be a family-friendly event. For more information on the effort, visit this site.