Arkansas River Clean Up Day morphs into 3 week event

SALIDA, Colo. – The 29th annual Greater Arkansas River Cleanup-Greenup will go on this year in conjunction with Earth Day and Colorado Public Lands Day.

However, it is changing out of respect for Gov. Jared Polis’ call for social distancing to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Instead of a one-time event, this year’s modified cleanup will be spread from April 22 to May 16 to minimize crowding. And participants are urged to work only in family groups while maintaining a minimum 6-foot distance from others during the three-week event.

The cleanup is co-hosted by Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA), the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA), and the Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

What hasn’t changed is the need to clean up trash and debris from the banks of the Arkansas River from Leadville to Pueblo in preparation for run-off.

So between Earth Day on April 22 and Colorado Public Lands Day on May 16, individuals can pick up trash bags (provided by American Rivers) outside of the AHRA Visitor Center, located at 307 W. Sackett Ave., or outside of the GARNA office, located at 209 E. 3rd St., both in Salida.

To schedule trash drop-off, call the AHRA at 719-539-7289, or bring your bags and other large items to AHRA on May 16, when a dumpster will be placed outside the Visitor Center.

As an incentive to participate, prizes will be awarded for “Largest Piece of Trash,” “Strangest Piece of Trash,” “Most Upcycle-Worthy Piece of Trash” and “People’s Choice.”

Be sure to share and tag your photos on social media using #CUGU2020Largest, #CUGU2020Strangest, #CUGU2020Upcycle and #CUGU2020PeoplesChoice or email your submissions to

As always, don’t pick up hazardous trash. Please notify the AHRA at 719-539-7289 if you come across dangerous materials including leaky batteries, chemical containers, sharp items (including needles or other biohazard waste), live ammunition or explosives.

The AHRA launched its annual river cleanup program on May 9, 1992, in cooperation with American Rivers and National River Cleanup.

Also, the cleanup counts toward CPW volunteer hours awards. Any individual who completes at least 48 hours of logged CPW volunteer work within a 12-month period is eligible to earn a free volunteer pass.

For more information, contact AHRA at 719-539-7289 or email