From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Chhun Sun):
…a group of 15 volunteers didn’t mind an early wake-up call Sunday before coming together at Palmer Lake to pick up trash, pull weeds and do cleanup as part of the third annual Creek Week – an effort to protect the Fountain Creek Watershed.
The goal is to reduce pollution that clogs waterways and leads to flooding, improves wildlife habitat and protects drinking water by collecting and removing litter and debris within the watershed during a nine-day period, according to an El Paso County news release.
Sunday was the second day of the cleanup project, and volunteers arrived at 8:30 a.m. to the Palmer Lake Recreation Area – located at the foot of Ben Lomand Mountain – and dedicated nearly three hours to beautifying the park. A few people spent their time gathering debris around the lake and pulling out weed, while others cleared some brushes near the entrance.
Then, there was the 21st Medical Group at Peterson Air Force Base that was in charge of replacing old railroad ties along the dirt path. Though the morning was cold and windy, the group didn’t mind being outside. They’re used to working inside a clinic with each other, so this was a good excuse to work up a sweat.
“We are dependent on the community,” said technical Sgt. Jamin Norton of Pennsylvania. “We need to be out there in the community, showing that we’re giving back and getting to know folks in the community. We move around a lot, so we don’t necessary have local ties. Some of us do, but a lot of us don’t. This way, we get out there and get involved. We meet some of the local folks. They see us and get to know us on a personal level and not just someone in a uniform.”
The project started as a way to maintain the watershed – which includes Fountain Creek, related wetlands, trails and recreational facilities – as an “important resource and asset of the people of El Paso County and the Pikes Peak region,” the county’s District 4 commissioner, Dennis Hisey, said during a county proclamation reading. The watershed features multiple streams that goes into Fountain Creek and that “an empty plastic water bottle discarded up north in Cottonwood Creek eventually floats south through Fountain and continues on past Pueblo.”
The first year of Creek Week drew 625 volunteers who collected seven tons of litter. The following year attracted 1,500 volunteers who picked up 10 tons of litter. This year, organizers expect about 2,000 volunteers who will clean up 12 tons of litter.
“There’s so many reasons to participate in Creek Week,” said Dana Nordstrom, the county’s community outreach coordinator. “There’s beautification, wildlife habitat, water ecology. We tell people to pick a reason, to pick a day and pick it up.”
For volunteer information and cleanup locations, visit http://www.fountaincreekweek.com.