Derek Joseph

MISSOULA (KPAX) Throughout the year lots of trash can end up right in the Clark Fork River but there are many people who gather once a year to pick up that trash before the spring runoff makes it too difficult to handle.

The Clark Fork Coalition (CFC) has led the community in a cleanup at the heaviest trafficked areas of the river in Missoula for 19 years.

The current and future executive directors of the coalition say the community’s care for the environment has a large impact on the success of this cleanup.

“This river cleanup is such a reflection of Missoula’s civic pride and engagement,” CFC Executive Director Karen Knudsen said. “And just seeing people come together focused on a river we all love, that connects us, that unites us it’s so heartening to see this every year.”

CFC's future executive director, Brian Chaffin, spoke on the importance of keeping the planet safe for years to come.

“Rivers unite us. They flow through our communities and they flow through our hearts minds and imaginations,” Chaffin said. "Whether your community has a river through it or not the environment does the same for us and so uniting around that is just something we can all agree on.”

Many of the volunteers who took part in the cleanup on Sunday, April 21, 2024, did so because the hobbies they participate in are on the river are more enjoyable when it’s clean.

“I like fly fishing a lot and you know when you’re fishing when you see junk on the river it just kind of takes away from the whole experience," Marcelo Narona said.

Narona has been fishing in the Clark Fork River for over three decades and he has seen things in the river that can be dangerous to the wildlife and people in the river that he helped remove during the cleanup.

“You know a big chunk of irrigation pipe that, you know, just doesn’t look good and then a big chunk of metal that we managed to haul out so it just felt good to do that,” Narona said. “And the metal can be a real hazard in the river when you’re in a raft or something and it can tear a hole in a raft so we were able to pull it out.”

The Clark Fork Coalition’s next event will be the Fort Missoula Ponds Migration Watch on Monday, May 13, 2024.