It's the middle of Jackson Hole's first Fall Clean Up, and civic-minded Jackson Hole-ites are taking to the highways, parks, creeks and forests to tidy things up after one of the valley's busiest summers ever.
Participants are collecting bags upon bags of refuse and reporting back to organizers about how much their efforts are paying off. (Scroll through the photos at the top of this post to see if there's anyone you know; it's not too late to join them or take your own assigned area.)
Fall Clean Up week officially began this past Monday, Oct. 12, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 18. It's a collaborative effort between the Jackson Hole Rotary Club, Energy Conservation Works and Rendezvous River Sports. Modeled after the longstanding Spring Clean Up, the event has a long list of businesses, organizations and people sponsoring it and participating.
Youths from the Jackson Hole Kayak Club ventured Tuesday onto Flat Creek, launching from behind Miazga's Restaurant and picking up garbage in the creek and on the shores from their boats.
By the time they pulled out at the bridge on Snow King Avenue at Karns Meadow, they had "two duckies heaped full and 10 cold but proud kids," said Keith Harger, parent of one of the participants, 14-year-old Logan Harger. The total refuse later weighed in at about 200 pounds. The kayakers will head out again Saturday to continue cleaning on the stretch downstream toward Smith's.
On the highways, one dedicated family of volunteers, the Glicks, had already filled 69 bags of garbage from rights of way, even before the official cleanup week had begun. (They also found $125 in the process). Renée and Ryan Glick emailed their early results and some photos in a cleanup report to event organizers.
"WYDOT now knows us very well," they said. "It’s been eye-opening regarding how many people drink, drive AND litter at the same time (tossing out empties!!!)."
The Glicks began collecting trash along the Village Road, Spring Gulch, Broadway and Highway 22 into Wilson about three to four weeks ago. They said they have had to clean some stretches three times.
"We aren't done yet, but it's sure been educational," the Glicks wrote.
Organizers said the fall clean up for 2020 is not a typical one for the valley. Usually, a large group dedicates a day to cleaning together. However, in the year of COVID-19, they believe the strategy of dividing and conquering can still bring the community together.
“It’s been a long nine months, and to be able to get out and give back to the community that we all love and feel good about it, I think that those are all good reasons to do it,” coordinator April Norton said.
According to Norton, the cleanup is desperately needed due to record high levels of land use during the summer and fall. She said Jackson doesn’t have the government infrastructure to organize a cleanup of this size, but said she has full faith in the community’s ability to come together and take care of the community’s wildlife and land.
“Our public lands have been loved and used this summer, and we want to go into the long winter season, you know, having cleaned them up and prepared them for next year,” she said. “We’re doing cleaning on a lot of the trailheads, boat ramps and campsites, and we worked with our public lands managers to identify the areas that need the most attention.”
Norton said sponsors have donated prizes for people who send in photos of their fun trash findings throughout the week. For more information, go to JacksonHoleChamber.com/events-calendar/fall-clean-up and sign up at email@example.com.