BUTTE – Hundreds of children volunteered to cleanup Butte’s creeks because they care about the environment.
“Being a part of the solution and also, I’m getting away from school,” said 12-year-old Max Offutt.
“It’s fun and you get out of school,” said Emily Gutshall-Hirsh.
Okay, they also like a day off from school. But the 300 student and adult volunteers also appreciate the importance of keeping Silver Bow Creek and Blacktail Creek clean during this annual community event.
“Well, I thought it would a good thing to volunteer for because it will help fix the environment so no wild animals would eat something they’re not supposed to eat and get poisoned,” said Josh Price of West Elementary.
Volunteers filled 20 garbage bags with collected trash in just one hour and found many discarded items.
“The most famous find on this section, we found an oil pan and so that was not so awesome for the creek because oil in the creek is not a good thing,” said Rayelynn Brandl of the Clarkfork Watershed Education Program.
In five years, this annual cleanup has made a big difference.
“In the first year it took us forever just to make a half mile of creek and now were able to do the whole thing from Father Sheehan to the Chamber, so it’s a lot less trash in the stream,” Brandl said.
Silver Bow Creek has certainly come a long way from the decades of neglect, but environmentalists say people still have to be vigilant to keep this waterway clean.
“But compared to the 1970s version where this used to run red and there was actual things that would get in a landfill – refrigerators, tires, things like that – it is mile ahead of that, but we still have miles to go in restoring and cleaning it up,” said Brandl.
It’s important to keep it clean because the Butte creeks flow into the Columbia River and points west.