Blue River Watershed Group is getting organized
SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County citizens may soon have a chance to get more involved in local water issues, including clean up of the Blue River.For one of its first public events, the Blue River Watershed Group (BRWG) will help remove litter from the popular waterway as part of Make A Difference Day on Saturday.The plan is to find 10 to 20 volunteers and remove debris and garbage between Dillon Dam and town hall in Silverthorne. With enough volunteers and a knowledgeable volunteer coordinator, they might try to tackle the section between County Road 3 and Breckenridge, said Andy Gentry, part of the group’s steering committee and chair of the local Trout Unlimited chapter.”The most important aspect of the BRWG is twofold,” Gentry said. “First, to educate the public about water issues and, second, to teach people that they can make a difference.The watershed group has been in the works since last summer. After an initial organizational meeting, organizer Shanna Koenig decided to press forward with the task of building up a grassroots base. Members of a steering committee are looking at bylaws from similar groups and filing for nonprofit status. A board of directors will include representation from different parts of the watershed.Additionally, the BRWG is organizing an educational speaker series, which will likely be held monthly through the winter. In 2005, the group plans to offer field trips and other educational events.”The Blue River Watershed Group will definitely have a lasting impact on Summit County for years to come,” said Andy Gentry, chair of the local Trout Unlimited chapter. “Shanna has great energy. We have great people involved. When you consider that three of the most prominent water people in the county – Scott Hummer, Taylor Hawes and Tom Long are all on the (BRWG) steering committee – this group can, and in my opinion, will have significant impact on water issues in Summit County,” Gentry said. Along with Hummer, Hawes and Long, Gentry also serves on the steering committee, as does Karn Stiegelmeyer, chair of the Blue River Sierra Club Group.”Water is not an infinite resource,” Gentry continued. “But if we all work together we can have the water we need to ensure a healthy environment. Little projects like a cleanup make a significant difference for our environment. The more we do to protect our watersheds the more sustainable our environment is. After all, everything needs water to survive.”These days, water is not coming out of the tap as freely as people once simply assumed it always would, said county commissioner Tom Long. As a result, people are sitting up and taking notice of water issues, Long said, explaining the emergence of grassroots watershed groups in different areas.”The BRWG formed with the intention of enabling citizen involvement in local water issues,” Koenig explained. “We believe that through education and information, citizens will grow to better understand their watershed and be inspired to protect it. Because water issues are so complicated, it’s challenging for the average citizen to feel empowered enough to become actively involved in the issues facing Summit County’s water supply.”The Blue River cleanup will last two to three hours and kids are welcome. Participants will meet Saturday at the Summit Stage bus barns (located behind the old animal shelter) at the County Commons near Frisco at 8 a.m. For more information on the BRWG and the Blue River cleanup, call Shanna Koenig, (970) 389-1188.Bob Berwyn can be contacted at email@example.com.
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