Friday, June 11, 2010

More solo cleanup

(Above: I am willing to do anything to make picking up trash more popular…even fish with a fly rod.)

This year I am making a vow to clean up every spot that I fish. Maybe it is just a little bit of cleanup on one day or a lot of cleanup on another. I have made excuses in the past while stepping over this piece of litter or that hunk of junk. No more. My tackle bag will be loaded with at least a few of those plastic shopping bags for small trash pickups and a few 33gallon Hefties are put in the truck for full scale cleanup emergencies.

(Above: I share a lake with some duck hunters and they really shoot up the place when the season is in full swing. The rules say to pick up the shells but I still manage to wrangle up a pile about this size every year. The green scrap of plastic could have come from two counties away and brought by wind.)

Another issue with my cleanup this year has been the fact that blizzard season was extended a bit longer. When we were facing that five-year drought cycle I had gotten spoiled by those sixty-degree days in February. Being able to clean areas even in late January when snakes and bugs are completely dormant made the late winter\early spring season fly right by. With constant blizzards and falling snow I was barely able to get cleanup projects going until late April and even early May. Now I am looking at early summer and just getting started.

Turning the tide is about changing the mentality of a small few. Maybe if folks started glamorizing pictures of trash haul outs and the crazy things they find\disposed of out there on the water it will help. The majority understands the importance of clean nature areas and they are just as disgusted by litter. But that small percentage still doesn’t seem to care. They can pack the beer and snacks in but don’t seem to have the energy or thought to haul it out. Maybe there should be a bounty or severe penalty for this.

There is actually.

(Above: There is a $1000 fine for littering in Colorado but the enforcement part is a little subject and difficult to prove or prosecute without concrete evidence. This complicates matters immensely.)

Fight the battles you can win…fishing is low priority in regards to some waters and in those instances your help means so much.

Adopting the waters that treat you well can make a lot of difference. Don’t wait for some organized, promotionalized and socialized cleanup event to happen at your fishing spots before picking up the trash. Get out there and do what you can now. Let’s face it, big, organized cleanups are nice but they only cover a few places once a year. This barely makes a dent in the situation. There are thousands of anglers in Colorado visiting all sorts of waters on a routine basis. Engaging the masses to “clean what you can” is an even better if not the ultimate solution. This is not stating you shouldn’t attend the cleanup festivals. These are great too. Anything that focuses on trash pick up is great. What are you doing in the meantime? Are you waiting for someone to organize a cleanup project at your fishing hole? Don’t wait…just do it!

The best place to start is at your fishing spot in small amounts. Haul out what you can in small amounts every trip. Trust me it will make a dent and you will see a difference long term. If you don’t make a dent, maybe what you need is a more thorough “scrub” once a year. Not a lot of folks are willing to do this solo. This may be a good candidate for the cleanup party.

(Above: This may be a bit more gritty than some want to deal with. I want to caution all that tread in the heavy cover cleanup. I do a full scrub here every year and it aint ever pretty. Note the small children fishing only a few yards away from this mess in the upper right of the photo.)

Take this swampy cove here. The wind and lake current will focus the trash into this swampy cove. This one spot could be a 15-minute chore all by itself. Next time I am packing some dishwashing gloves. You know…the kind that go up to your elbow?

(Above: Nature adapts to a lot of abuse humans throw at it constantly. If we all can lay down our personal agendas for a moment and give the planet a hand, the nature areas will be even more amazing.)

After 10 years of emails, phone calls and roundtables…this is the only battle I seem to make any ground on whatsoever. So if you are like me and a little pissed off at the way people treat Colorado’s super-awesome-totally-amazing-natural-ultra-wild-and completely fantastic open space and fishing places? Pick up that trash instead of stepping over it. Swearing is the first step but picking that @#$%^& up is really the way to drive things home.

Yes, it is lame to pick up after people and apparently there are rules that say we cannot shoot litterbugs. Even firing a warning shot is illegal in most Colorado counties. Confrontation will only lead to trouble. Simply picking up the trash is the ultimate resolution and helps your personal backyard fishery out in so many ways. Maybe if folks glorified the “trash haul out” more and the “fish take out” less, we could reach optimum fishing in Colorado.

Good Luck and good fishing.


Anonymous said...

I really applaud your efforts. As you stated there just seem to be enough of us who care in most cases. Or is it that those who don't care leave so much that it takes a guy like you several loads to pick up their mess?

Bigerrfish said...

your Awesome for hauling out trash like that Matt....
The fly rod was a nice prop for the photo.. (Joker) your right about people doing a little at a time to make a big difference in the long haul.........but...(thers always a but with me huh) a large percentage of the people who leave the trash, are on there once-twice a year fishing trip, pissed about having to buy a license and cant remember how to tie the bobber on,, these dips dont have to look at their own trash,,, nobody wants to wade around there own jackDaniels bottels.. however if the person has the grudge I said ubove then they honestly think that the trash clean up was covered at the counter...

I guess my point is... if I'm right... that Is, The bastards messing it op for the rest of us are hiding in plain sight. if these people stand out so well to us, then how come Ranger Rick cant spot them. or is Rick one of them...

I'm still shiking my head on why you brought the flyrod into it... Oh wait... you took a stab at the flyers, hoping they would respect you for being a "fly-guy" maybe someone will think that... not me..

Nice post Matt and Nice Crappie

Coloradocasters said...

Thanks Mel! Fishing in the Denver Metro area is not as serene as it could be.

Wind, unruly dogs and even birds contribute to the problem so it all adds up after a while. I have gone back here a few times this year and it has made all the difference in the world.

Coloradocasters said...

Bigerrfish said: but...(thers always a but with me huh)

For some reason I have to put up with a few butts. =P