Gotta Go

If you’ve ever worked on a stream clean-up or similar conservation project, you understand how hard it is to find volunteers to pick up other people’s trash. Makes sense–it’s an incredibly unfair proposition that runs counter to the laws of rational self-interest and personal economy. “Please join with a very small group of people this Saturday to pick up a year’s supply of muddy, reeking filth left behind by lame-ass jerks and lazy shit-brains from all over the state”? Uh huh. Sign me up for that.

Whenever I go to these things I’m just perplexed. I mean really. I want to know who chucked a VHS copy of “Dances With Wolves” into the Logan River. And the passenger-side dashboard of a Hyndai–how did that get into the middle of Third Dam Reservoir? I’d really like to meet up with owners of every single flip-flop and red-and-white bobber I’ve retrieved. I’d love to chat with them sometime.

But sarcasm and bewilderment and smugness won’t pick up a single cigarette butt, beer can, or styrofoam worm cup. You fish, you hike, you camp. So, you gotta go. Spend a few minutes online or pick up a newspaper. Find out when it is. There’s a stream clean-up, streambank willow planting, or some other conservation project happening near you, and probably soon. Trout Unlimited’s National Stream Clean-up Day is June 23, but some states and chapters move that date to accommodate weather, run-off, and other factors.

Make all the wise-cracks you want, shake your head at how stupid some people’s kids are. You can even go ahead and feel all self-important and altruistic. You are entitled to do those things. Main thing is: you gotta go.

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7 thoughts on “Gotta Go

  1. Able Damm says:

    its true no one likes it but it must be done. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Luther says:

    Good message pitching in for cleanup. It’s always a shock to run into litter when I’m out trout fishing. One year someone dumped a carload of trash over the side of the hill where we set up spring trout camp. The person had to drive a two track into a remote spot to do it. The trash included heavy items like a stove. They just didn’t want to pay to drop it off at a dump. There are a lot of poor people living in the general area and I remember the mixed emotions – first anger and wanting to sift through the trash to find a name, then just wanting to never go back there, avoiding the area because I was so upset. It sort of sticks with you, how anyone could be so thoughtless. There are worse crimes, but some people, for whatever reason, don’t care about the effect their actions have on others.

    That said, what can be done about it? Maybe one of the film makers you interview would be interested in filming a cleanup crew and asking the participants about their feelings about it all. Not that litterers would be attracted to that kind of film.

    • Honestly, I hate going to stream clean-ups. I really do not like doing them. I’m extremely happy that the garbage is getting picked up, but while I’m actually picking up the trash, I can’t wait for it to be over. The reason that I go (aside from the satisfaction of knowing that area will be clean for awhile) is that I believe regular, concerted stream clean-up efforts can have a effect on the behavior of the people who use that stream/area. If a visitor comes from downstate or someplace else and they see the campground in my canyon is litter-strewn and unkempt, they will have less compunction about littering themselves. If they come to a very clean and unlittered area, they may think twice about littering. I think that the cleaner we keep the area, the cleaner it will become over time.

  3. Κωστής says:

    There are countless the times when I want to take a picture of a beautiful place and it’s ruined because of a plastic bag (usually blue colour – I don’t know why) or random trash cast on the banks of the river… I can go on and ask similar questions like “Who through a whole electric kitchen on the river?”. You can find people like those in every corner of the world… especially in my country!

    You should be very proud of yourself to volunteer for this kind of works. I’m glad for you!

  4. “You gotta go,” but most people say I can’t be bothered. I gotta go this Thurs. evening for a roadside dump clean-up near our project stream, then next Sat. (continuing possibly into Sunday morning) for a big clean-up of tires and washing machines, etc., dumped into another brookie stream. We’ll feel better for fishing there when it’s clean, and I think it has an effect on the rural neighborhood, which can’t help but see what we’re up to. No fun, but thanks for bringing this to our attention.

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