One river basin, three counties, six towns, 202 volunteers, 680 square miles of watershed and 1,900 pounds of trash. By the numbers, that’s the work of the Blue River Watershed Group and a summary of its second annual river cleanup held at the end of August. Led by executive director Kendra Fuller, this Summit County nonprofit focuses on the health of the snowpack, runoff, rivers and water in general, as well as its vital importance as a resource for people and the ecosystem.
The Blue River Watershed Group and its local Integrated Water Management Plan is a part of the Colorado Basin Roundtable, which in turn is a part of the larger statewide Colorado Water Plan. The work that the organization does locally affects millions. Its mission is to promote, protect and restore a healthy Blue River watershed through cooperative community education, stewardship and resource management. The watershed covers all of Summit County and portions of Grand and Lake counties, and the river cleanup took place in Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Dillon, Frisco and Silverthorne.
On a typical day, Kendra is out finding river slime and macroinvertebrates, or measuring river flow and making calculations. “It’s the coolest, most interesting thing ever! It takes a superpower to be this nerdy,” she said with a laugh. Kendra is also grateful for the community’s buy-in to the work of the organization. “Alpine Bank helped us fund our volunteer celebration with free food, music and beer. We were able to show just a fraction of our gratitude for all the amazing community members who turned out for our river health.”