Arkansas River cleaning initiative gains momentum


Eduardo Castillo

The banks of the Arkansas River near 11th Street.

Nature enthusiasts Anthony Trupia and Mark Hansen have proposed a new initiative to clean up the Arkansas River between the castle on 11th Street and Century II. Trupia originally thought of the idea after kayaking down the river and being discouraged by all the debris on the banks.

“What really propelled this was getting kayaks last year, so we go kayaking all spring, summer, and fall and just kind of seeing that more up close and all the time,” Trupia said of the debris. “The entire time you’re out there, you see it and you’re reminded of it. Every five minutes, you see trash, so we always talked about it.”

Trupia and Hansen started kayaking the river last year when Trupia moved to the Riverside neighborhood. Hansen said most of the debris is concentrated in the dam near the keeper of the plains.

“People will walk along the bank and won’t spot all of it,” Hansen said. “If you’re in kayak or canoe, you see so much trash down there stuck in the gutters.”

The duo said they hope to get volunteers with watercraft to help clean up the river. Among the supplies that will be required for the clean-up will be gloves, trash bags, trash baggers, and waters bottles.

“We hope to get multiple people with watercraft out there. You can’t really see the trash from the banks,” Trupia said. “Being out on the river will be more effective in clearing it more, because you can actually see the trash.”

Trupia said volunteer participation has exceeded his expectations.

“I had a lot of people step forward that want to do it,” Trupia said. “I was only expecting about five to 10 people — people that we kind of just already knew that were friends.

Trupia advertised the initiative through Facebook and Instagram. Shortly after posting, it was shared heavily. Trupia said he hopes to launch a small-scale operation some time this month in preparation for a larger project later on.

“I worry that making it too big might be its downfall,” Trupia said. “We want to see how many people might come out and gauge from there.”

“We will need a plan to dispose of the trash bags,” Hansen said. “We got about four bags between the both of us in two hours.”

Trupia said he will look for sponsors to help host a larger-scale operation.

“If enough people are supporting it and behind it, then hopefully everybody will roll with the punches and get it done,” Trupia said. “It’s one of those things if you want to do it, it’s going to get done. It doesn’t have to be perfectly planned out the first time.”