Last Saturday, the Great Basin Foundation, a fledgling nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness on environmental issues, held a Provo River cleanup that was designed to attract a large number of "river users" with promises of a free float trip, a free barbecue, and prizes for volunteers. A great deal of effort was put into advertising and organizing the event, including news releases (which weren't printed by any paper), fliers, posters, etc. A mere 18 people showed up and barely made a dent in the amount of post-consumer refuse that litters the drainage.
A few local businesses contributed supplies and prizes, but the level of support for such an obviously important aspect of our ecosystem was discouraging. I am an avid flyfisherman, river runner and patron of the Provo River and its beauty, and I am continually disgusted at the complete lack of responsibility that other river users seem to be comfortable with.
The river banks are littered with wrappers, bottles and debris from inconsiderate, unethical Utahns. I have found car batteries, antifreeze bottles and other dangerous items in my favorite fishing spots. While I was picking up trash on the banks, I even watched some father deliberately sink a soda can in front of his son as he floated by in a tube. What are we teaching our children? What legacy are we leaving them?
What has to happen before people wake up and take responsibility for the land and rivers that we are lucky enough to have public access to? Will it take an obliterated trout population and unsafe drinking water for people to realize that something needs to change?
Aren't there some government agencies that should be involved in keeping the river clean? Where are they? It seems so clear to me that we can wait no longer for a major public education campaign on environmental issues to be instigated on a major scale.