Fountain Creek Watershed District celebrates the 10th anniversary of the initiative
BY O’DELL ISAAC email@example.com
The Gazette, Colorado Springs
LOCAL & STATE
In 2022, more than 3,000 volunteers came out to help beautify the Fountain Creek watershed during the annual Creek Week cleanup effort. This year, as the Fountain Creek Watershed District celebrates the 10th anniversary of the conservationist initiative, officials are hoping for an even bigger turnout. “We had 3,000 volunteers last year, and that was great,” said Alli Schuch, executive director of the watershed district. “This year, we’re hoping for 4,000 ‘watershed warriors’ to come out and help us clean up this beautiful, important resource that we have.” Since Schuch founded the Creek Week cleanup in 2014, more than 20,000 volunteers have collected more than 140 tons of trash from the waterway and nearby areas, officials said. It’s the biggest cleanup effort in Colorado, and arguably one of the largest in the U.S., the district said in a news release. “Our cleanup groups have found some pretty wild stuff,” Schuch said. “There are always plastic bags and soda bottles, of course, but there’s been a locked safe, a Harry Truman mask, someone found a wad of cash once. And we have found a variety of animal bones.” “That’s part of the fun, talking and laughing about the strange things we find along the watershed.” The cleanup effort will run from Sept. 30–Oct. 8 and include nearly 200 cleanups, district officials said. “Nine days, no excuses,” Schuch said. “Most people can find a spare hour over a nine-day period.” The primary aim of Creek Week is to maintain the region’s water quality, but it also helps restore the natural beauty that makes Colorado unique, Schuch said. “We live in one of the most beautiful places, arguably, in the United States, but what takes way from it is the trash that’s out there,” she said. “It’s not only unsightly, but it can also cause big problems — harming wildlife, clogging storm drains and just taking away from the natural beautiful setting that we live in.” Colorado residents may disagree on a wide variety of topics, but they all care about water, which is one of the reasons Creek Week brings out so many volunteers, Schuch said. “Water is the No. 1 issue of our lifetime, and we’re right in the heart of it,” she said. “Any trash or debris that’s on the land, if we don’t clean it up, eventually ends up in the water.” This year, in conjunction with the conservation efforts, the Fountain Creek Brewshed Alliance is releasing a new beer, called Impactful IPA. Composed of 25 local breweries, the Brewshed Alliance is a watershed program whose goal is “to engage citizens in conversations and actions that will lead to water protection and enhancement,” according to its website. “Hey, beer is about 95% water, and Colorado is one of the brewing capitals of the U.S.,” Schuch said. “What better way to have a conversation about water than over a beer?” Volunteers may sign up as a crew leader or crew member, according to the news release. Crew leaders will register online, and crew members can sign up by contacting a crew member directly. “We find that (Creek Week) opens (people’s) eyes to the immense challenges we face managing this watershed,” Schuch said. “The cleanups take one or two hours, and you can see the results instantly. I think it’s powerful, empowering and impactful.” To register for the Creek Week cleanup, or to learn more about it, visit https://www.fountain-crk.org/creek- week2023- registration.