Volunteers from around the state joined forces March 3 in San Marcos for the 26th Annual Great Texas River Clean-Up.
Overcast skies and high winds did not prevent participants from canoeing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling and walking alongside the 90-mile stretch of the San Marcos River to pick up recyclables and trash.
Jon Cradit, former San Marcos River Foundation director, said he has participated in the world’s longest river cleanup off and on for 20 years because of his love for the San Marcos River.
“I grew up here. I was born here,” Cradit said. “I think the river needs some attention.”
Cradit said he collected recycling and trash from City Park to Thomson’s Island. He said the most common items he found were plastic bags and aluminum cans.
However, Cradit said a traffic cone, part of a refrigerator, a large plastic chair and trash bins were also found along a 2-mile stretch of the river.
A variety of disposable containers were found in and along the stretch of river behind the San Marcos Nature Center by members of the Texas State University WaterAid chapter who volunteered in support of their mission to protect and conserve water resources.
Nathan Hartman, Texas State University junior and water studies student, said this was his second year participating in the cleanup with the university’s WaterAid chapter.
Hartman said he and other members kayaked and bagged trash and recyclables along the organization’s Adopt-a-Spot. In addition to disposable containers, members found large amounts of plastic foam.
“Styrofoam, when it breaks down, it creates this floating island of sludge,” he said.
Cradit said it did not seem as though there was as much trash this year. He said the large amount of trash collected in 2011 may be attributable to the drought, which prevented the flow of trash through storm drains.
Dianne Wassenich, San Marcos River Foundation program director, said the cleanups help make the San Marcos River safer and more attractive.
“It’s good, healthy outdoor exercise,” Wassenich said. “It’s a wonderful time to get to know community members who care about the river.”
Melani Howard, City of San Marcos watershed protection program manager, said 156 pounds of trash, which included tires, clothes, toilet seats, steel and metal were gathered during the 2011 cleanup. She said nearly 200 volunteers worked to collect 50 bags of recycling in 2011.
Totals for the 2012 cleanup were not yet available, though recycling bins placed in the Lions Club Tube Rental parking lot were filled with trash bags.
San Marcos businesses and organizations also showed support for the effort.
Domino’s Pizza, the League of United Latin American Citizens and Jo On the Go donated food and drinks for participants, and Green Guy Recycling donated collection bins.