First Annual “Clean the Dream” River Cleanup A Success-Robert Volpe

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The Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area is home to one of Colorado’s most coveted fly fishing destinations.

Dubbed “The Dream Stream” because of the potential to catch the fish of a lifetime during the annual spring Rainbow Trout spawn and the fall Brown Trout spawn out of Elevenmile Reservoir, the three mile long section of the South Platte River meanders through the South Park high plateau between Spinney Mt. Reservoir and Elevenmile Reservoir.

Landon Mayer has been guiding both novice and experienced fly fishermen (and women and children) on the Dream Stream since the late 1990’s. He has written five books on trout fishing and is considered by many to be THE authority when it comes to fishing the Dream Stream.

Landon’s passion for fly fishing for trout and the environment that support the fishery is legendary. He has earned the respect of his colleagues, anglers, environmentalists, fish biologists, and wildlife administrators through his efforts to maintain and improve ethical fishing practices and fish habitat.

Landon is not just a professional fly fishing guide. He is a teacher, a writer, an environmentalist, a mentor to young fly fishing guides, and a father.

Because of its world wide reputation, the Dream Stream sees a lot of action. An estimated 150 fisherman descend on its banks to ply their skills every week, with the majority of pressure coming during the spring Rainbow Trout and fall Brown Trout spawning migrations when as many as 300 fisherman visit weekly.

With so many people using the river there are inevitably some negative impacts. Trash is a byproduct of human activity that affects us all. Fishermen are generally more environmentally conscience than the average Starbuck swilling American, but even among the ranks of the disciples, there are accidental discharges and even flagrantly thrown trash deposits that pile up in willow stands and on the banks of the river.

Mayer’s newest project “Clean the Dream” kicked off last Saturday May 28th. The event as he describes it is, “A conservation effort to pick up the trash we see every year, and our way of giving back to the river that gives us so much.”

About 20 people showed up for the event. Some brought their families to give them an idea of the greater responsibility we have to protect and care for our environment.

Volunteers walked the river bank and picked up all kinds of trash from the smallest gum wrapper and cigarette butt, to discarded tires and even a rusty old box spring that probably dates back to when the Charlie Meyer’s State Wildlife Area was the working cattle ranch called Spinney Mountain Ranch.

When the dust settled and the bags of trash and various larger objects were inventoried, there was a nice pile of about 100 pounds of stuff that will no longer be an eye sore to anglers and other visitors to the area.

Brandon Kramer, a fly fishing guide with The South Platte Fly Shop in Woodland Park, and financial associate with Thrivent Financial, co-produced the event with Landon.
Kramer said, “Twice a year Thrivent Financial provides seed money to promote generosity within the community. Those are called “action teams.” This is an action team project today.”

Although this year’s event didn’t attract as many volunteers as hoped for, Landon and Kramer are determined to make this an annual event. Kramer noted, “We hoped to have this early in May, but weather became an issue. Being the first event there are some things that need to be adjusted. Being Memorial Day weekend, there are many people doing things with the family who would have liked to come out and help. Maybe we will change it to a fall event. We will see.”

Landon added, “Whether it be the spring, summer, or fall we’re thinking for future years to hit different seasons. In the fall for example we get a lot of hunters up here with shot gun shells and people throughout the summer drop their trash. It’s not all intentional. I think if we do this annually and make sure we cover the seasons it’ll be a cleaner environment for everybody.”

The event did garner attention from many of the top fly fishing industry product manufactures and local businesses. Volunteers who participated in the cleanup were given raffle tickets for items donated by those manufacturers and businesses.

Yeti, Scientific Angler, Smith Optics, Fishpond, South Platte Fly Shop, Simms, Winston Fly Rods, Umpqua Feather Merchants, and Black Bear Diner all donated items for the raffle.

These weren’t just little bottle openers and trinkets that were donated. Several of the donations were valued at over $100. The Smith Optics CromaPop sunglasses had a retail value of $270 and the Fishpond pack retails for $130!

Winston Fly Rods promised to donate a fly rod for the next event, so get your butt off the couch next time and come out, give back to the river, enjoy a day with family and friends. Maybe you’ll meet a new fishing partner.

You will definitely slow down and have time to recognize and absorb the not so obvious surroundings that make up the overall experience of fly fishing that are sometimes overlooked or taken for granted in your rush to get your line in the water.

Tight lines and see ya on the river.

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