Pandemic won’t ruin the annual river cleanup effort |

Pandemic won’t ruin the annual river cleanup effort

Fryingpan and Beyond Cleanup will be held April 19-23

The Roaring Fork Conservancy will be asking people to volunteer their time to clean up stretches of the river on their own between April 19-23 this year. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Diehard river lovers didn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic prevent them from picking up trash along the Fryingpan, Crystal and Roaring Fork last April. The Roaring Fork Conservancy is hoping for an even bigger turnout this year.

The Basalt-based conservancy is hosting its Fryingpan and Beyond Cleanup on April 19-23. Volunteers are being asked to cleanup a stretch of river frontage during daylight hours on those days.

The event started as a one-day, annual cleanup of the Fryingpan River between Basalt and Ruedi Reservoir. As it grew in popularity, it was expanded to including the Roaring Fork River through Basalt.

Last year, the show went on but was altered due to COVID. The conservancy asked people to pick up trash when it worked for them within a certain window. It was only about one month into the pandemic, so conditions were uncertain.

“We still had over 100 people, maybe closer to 150,” said Christina Medved, the conservancy’s director of community outreach. “Everybody knew that week they were doing their part to clean up their local watershed.”

The ongoing threat of the coronavirus and the need for precautions will require the conservancy to apply the same parameters this year to the river cleanup, which is now in its 23rd year. Volunteers are being asked to organize their efforts along any river in the Roaring Fork River watershed — in other words, the Roaring Fork, Fryingpan and Crystal rivers —starting April 19 and lasting through April 23.

Pre-registration will be required for anyone wanting to pick up trash along the Fryingpan River up to the reservoir and along the Roaring Fork River through Basalt. The conservancy will coordinate the effort to cover as much terrain as possible and spread out people. An email will be sent with assignments several days before the cleanup.

Pre-registration is available via

Trash picked up along the Fryingpan River can be left along the road. It will be picked up by Eagle County by 2 p.m. on April 22.

Trash picked along the Fryingpan after that time as well as trash picked up elsewhere can be dropped off at a dumpster the town of Basalt is providing at Marino Park, just west of Basalt Town Hall and the stage in Lions Park. Waste Management Inc. will also provide a container for any recyclable materials that are collected.

Roaring Fork Conservancy executive director Rick Lofaro said the river frontages have seen increased visitation during the pandemic, just as trail use spiked and interest in the outdoors increased.

“I’m sure there’s going to be plenty of trash out there,” he said.

Medved said the silver lining of the pandemic has been that more river frontage has been covered by the cleanup. “We had people all over the valley cleaning up,” she said.

She urged people who want to volunteer along the Fryingpan River and the Roaring Fork River through Basalt to pre-register as soon as possible so assignments can be made. So far, 28 volunteers have signed up prior to the conservancy’s big PR push.

Participants are urged to take photos of their group’s effort, post them on social media and tag #roaringforkconservancy and #odellbrewing. Photos should also be mailed to Medved at by noon April 27 to be entered into a prize drawing. O’Dell Brewing is a sponsor of the river cleanup.

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