River cleanup

El Paso County and Colorado Springs officials encouraged residents to participate in the 2021 Great American Cleanup across the Pikes Peak Region on Saturday, April 24, 2021. In this file photo from April 2019, Emily Perkins, left, and Debbie Ferguson pick up trash along Fountain Creek during the event that year. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

El Paso County and Colorado Springs officials encouraged residents Wednesday to help give the Pikes Peak region’s parks, trails and waterways a spring cleaning this weekend.

County Commissioner Stan VanderWerf and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers encouraged residents to participate in the regional Great American Cleanup event, part of a national effort to “keep America beautiful,” on Saturday. The event is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at nearly 20 different locations across the county.

“It is important for us to create and preserve and maintain a beautiful community,” El Paso County Commissioner Stan VanderWerf said. "This takes intentional participation and consistent dedication to keeping our community beautiful so that we can enjoy it as residents and provide an inviting atmosphere for our visitors."

At the latest event in 2019, more than 1,300 El Paso County volunteers collected nearly 2,000 bags of trash parks, trails, creeks, roads and town centers across Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Fountain and Monument, according to a joint press release.

Interested volunteers can register for the event online at gacppp.com. Bags and safety vests will be provided, but volunteers are encouraged to bring gloves, sunscreen and refillable water bottles, according to the press release. Volunteers under 16 years old must be supervised by an adult.

“Not only does litter look bad, it can be costly to clean up, it impacts our quality of life, it can impact our economic development, our property values, and eventually a lot of that litter can wind up in waterways and oceans,” Suthers said, adding that city and county cleanup efforts should be ongoing.

Last year, the city’s Neighborhood Services Quality of Life team removed more than 2,700 truckloads of trash from city creeks, medians and public spaces over the course of more than 1,700 cleanups, according to the release. The city’s WorkCOS program, which employs people experiencing homelessness, also picked up 31 truckloads of trash along 134 miles of city medians last year.

Colorado Springs residents can report “significant amounts” of litter in public rights-of-way or public property by calling (719) 444-7891, on the city website at coloradosprings.gov, or through the GoCOS! smartphone application available at the Apple App store or Google Play, Suthers said.

“Let’s clean up, let’s participate in these specific events, and let’s do everything we can to make sure that we have a city that reflects our magnificent natural surroundings,” he said.

For more information about Saturday’s Great American Cleanup event, contact Kathy Andrew by phone at (719) 520-7879 or email at kathyandrew@elpasoco.com.

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Breeanna Jent covers El Paso County government. She previously worked as the editorial assistant for the Pikes Peak Newspapers and joined their sister paper, The Gazette, in 2020.

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