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by Karla Camacho, KTB Communications Coordinator

Last weekend I participated in the 38th annual Great Texas River Cleanup in San Marcos, Texas as a volunteer and photographer. It was very exciting since it was my first time participating in an event organized by Keep San Marcos Beautiful. The San Marcos River is infamous for its preservation of endangered species such as the Texas and San Marcos blind salamander and Texas wild rice. The majority of the plants and animals that reside in the river are endemic meaning they can only be found in the San Marcos River. By aiding in removing litter from the river and surrounding areas, this annual cleanup event has a massive positive impact in preventing land litter from reaching the river stream and protecting the endemic species of the river.

I signed up to help cleanup the watershed across the street from my apartment. It was a nice feeling walking down the block on a sunny morning knowing I was going to participate in such an impactful cleanup. I was also joined by my brother and cousin at the last minute. Although you have to sign up to partake and know where to meet, the cleanup is still open to register onsite at any time. We were given supplies for the cleanup when we arrived at our meet-up spot. These supplies consisted of gloves and two large trash bags, one for recycling and the other for trash. Some volunteers took their litter grabbers as well. 

While taking photographs I noticed a diverse amount of groups volunteering. These groups varied from divers and canoe clubs, student-led organizations, civic organizations, friends, and family. Some noticeable groups participating were Texas State Eco, San Marcos River Foundation, the Eyes of San Marcos River, and GirlScout Troops. The importance of this event was very noticeable to the San Marcos local community. It allows all, from different ages to careers, to contribute and partake in the beautification of the San Marcos River. 

Between the three of us, we picked up a total of two trash bags and one recycling bag. Seeing how much litter three people can pick up gave a bigger insight into just how impactful this cleanup is. Around a thousand volunteers sign up to participate in the Great Texas River Cleanup, meaning thousands of pounds of litter are picked up within just a few hours! Some unique finds that we came across were a sparkly dazzling pink pillow, a toddler-sized bed, and well-known single-use plastics.

Overall, the Great River Cleanup is an amazing event to remind people to take care of our waterways and be conscious of our trash and litter. Thank you to Keep San Marcos Beautiful for organizing this beautiful and inspiring event.