Hundreds pitch in for Great Texas River Cleanup

Mya Price reaches out into the water with her litter grabber as Udi Soria keeps their canoe still during the 33rd Annual Great Texas River Clean Up. Sponsors say more than 750 volunteers were part of the effort, which spanned the river’s entire 90-mile length. DAILY RECORD PHOTO BY DENISE CATHEY

Just over 750 volunteers set out early Saturday morning to participate in the 33rd Annual Great Texas River Cleanup hosted by San Marcos Community Services.

The focus of the cleanup was centered around 11 watersheds, creeks and tributaries that flow into the San Marcos and Blanco rivers.

It didn’t end in San Marcos; however, as the cleanup extended the entire 90-mile length of the San Marcos River, ending where it joins the Guadalupe River at Gonzales.

Melani Howard, habitat conservation plan manager, co-heads the annual cleanup with Amy Kirwin, community enhancement initiatives manager and director of the Keep San Marcos Beautiful program.

“I think the most beneficial aspect of this program is the education,” Howard said. “It’s such a massive event and we pick up a lot of litter. The crew leader of each team talks about the impact of litter and why we’re doing this.”

Rachel Wolfe and Angela Bailey each hold onto an end of their canoe as they begin moving it down to the dock as part of the canoe team cleanup effort during the 33rd Annual Great Texas River Clean Up.

The crew leaders are made up of student volunteers, interns for the city and the discovery center and city workers.

Scott Gregson, city councilman, has been involved with the annual cleanup for six years and said it is crazy to realize how much trash is overlooked in the town on a day-to-day basis.

“It’s always amazing how much trash we find,” Gregson said. “When you’re actually looking for trash, you see so much of it. This program is a beautification effort and it shows there is a lot of people in this city and from surrounding areas who care about keeping the city clean.”

The amount of trash picked up each year is staying about the same, which is good since the city’s population is growing, according to Kirwin. She said the biggest problem is people are not mindful of trash blowing out of their cars or where they throw cigarette butts.

Volunteer Adalinn Lebron Bengochea gives cleanup volunteer Lisa German her team information and her event T-shirt at the Rec Hall before the start of the cleanup.

Tributaries received a lot of attention. Teams were located as far as Interstate 35, Comanche Street and the far side of East Hopkins Street.

Christina Lopez, second year crew leader and geology graduate student at Texas State University, said the most important part of the event is getting people to understand the magnitude of it.

“This is a very important event where the community comes together and realizes the amount of trash in the river and around the city,” Lopez said. “We need a lot of people to clean throughout this city. Any trash in town will eventually flow into a watershed, which is why we clean more than just the river.”

Scuba diver Reese Reissig  surfaces to place a piece of trash from the river bottom into his litter bag.

The annual river cleanup is not the only beautification event hosted by the city.

“The next event is in April and is part of Keep San Marcos Beautiful,” Kirwin said. “There will be a concert every Thursday in San Marcos Plaza Park and each one has a sustainability theme.”

Additionally, the first Saturday of every month there is a hot-spot cleanup in designated areas across the city from 9-11 a.m. focusing on micro-littering.

For a complete list of beautification efforts, visit the organization’s website, and to get cleanup notifications email Kiriwn at

Isabela Hathcock and her father Chris work together to pick up trash in the Meeks section of the riverside parks.

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666