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Hear and Feel a Day Cleaning the South Platte River

A real river cleanup story captured in a podcast episode by The River Radius Podcast.


The South Platte River runs through the heart of Denver and is one of the most polluted rivers in Colorado. In 2007, Down River Equipment and Confluence Kayaks started an annual tradition with a small crew of river runners who put boats in the water and picked up trash as they floated downstream. This marked the first annual South Platte River Cleanup.


Since then, this cleanup has been one of Colorado's longest-running and most controversial cleanups. The cleanup has been around for seventeen years, and many organizations have organized it. In 2019, the cleanup started losing momentum and the next two years it was canceled due to COVID-19. In 2022, Protect Our Rivers offered to take the lead on the cleanup indefinitely and rejuvenated the cleanup, setting the record for most trash collected and turnout, with over 250 volunteers and 16 partners.



Last year, Sam Carter, Host of The River Radius Podcast sponsored the South Platte Cleanup and Sam came out and joined that cleanup. He and a friend put their boat in the water and spent several hours paddling downstream and picking up trash along a 5-mile stretch of the river. This was not a typical river float. The river was dirty; it smelled bad, and it was a ton of work. But despite this, Sam came to me after the cleanup and said this was one of the most memorable days he's had on the river, and he wanted to come back next year and build an episode around taking part in this river cleanup. (Click HERE to listen).



This year, on the morning of the South Platte Cleanup, Sam and I put my 12-foot RMR in the water, and I rowed us downstream to capture the real experience of this river cleanup.


In this episode, Sam talks with our organization and the founders of the first cleanup, John Kahn and Phil Walzynski, who are still involved. He also interviews the City of Denver about their $350 million plan to restore the river. And he gets the perspective of all the volunteers who joined us to clean the river.



I've listened to this episode several times, not because it's about Protect Our Rivers, but because what the volunteers say warms my heart. This episode is a testament to the power of the ripple effect and that everyone has the power to do something today to make a difference!


Protect Our Rivers is honored to run this event because that's what we do; we get our feet wet and hands dirty and pull trash out of the rivers we love.


Click HERE to listen.


And a huge thanks to Sam Carter, I had an incredible time making this podcast episode!


Here is The River Radius website and Instagram.
















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