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Natural Resources

Verde River cleanup set for Sept. 5

Cottonwood Journal Extra of Cottonwood, Arizona

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Invitations don't get any better than this.

Spend the morning beside the river, get a free lunch and get to see the brand new Rockin' River Ranch State Natural Area before the general public is allowed in.

The only catch is to spend a few hours helping to clean up the riparian area.

Hosted by the Verde Watershed Association in conjunction with Coca-Cola's Aquarius Spring! natural spring water, this year's Verde River Greenway community clean-up event will be held in Camp Verde on Saturday, Sept. 5, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The cleanup is being organized and supervised by Chip Norton of the Verde Watershed Association and Max Castillo, manager of the Verde River Greenway.

All adults willing to help pick up litter, remove invasive plant species and tear out old barbed wire fences are welcome.

The cleanup is sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company which is promoting clean-up events across the United States.

In addition to providing a $25,000 grant to the Verde Watershed Association to support regional awareness, stewardship and enjoyment of the Verde River Greenway Corridor, Coca-Cola will be showing off its vegetable oil-powered bus.

The grant must be used to facilitate and promote water stewardship along the Verde River Greenway Corridor and the Sept. 5 clean-up event will kick off its funding.

"We were awarded the grant four weeks ago," Norton said. "It was kind of a long shot for us to win because I only heard about it on the 1st of August and one of the conditions was that the river cleanup had to take place on the 5th of September."

Norton and Castillo already have some hard-core regulars signed up for the event, but they'd like to see first-timers as well.

"We're really hoping that a lot of people who don't usually show up for this sort of thing will give it a try this time and then come back in the future," Norton said.

Everyone who participates needs to wear sturdy shoes, work clothes, gloves, a hat and plenty of sunscreen.

"It's going to be a warm day and some of the work will be physically strenuous," Norton said. "But, we also have half a dozen lighter duty team assignments, like going around with a trash bag and picking up stuff by hand. There will be something productive for everyone to do."

The newly-acquired 209-acre property is about 1 1/2 miles upstream from Beasley Flats and was acquired through the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund.

It consists of riparian shoreline, mixed forest, grasslands, open water and developed land.

Drinking water and lunch will be provided for those helping out.

Norton promises those who haven't yet visited the Rockin' River Ranch that the experience alone will make their efforts worthwhile.

The Verde River is one of the desert's last free-running rivers and one of two waterways in Arizona with a section designated as wild and scenic.

Home to great blue herons, black hawks, coyotes, raccoons, mule deer, beavers, ducks, frogs, and toads, the Verde River and its surrounding riparian corridor support nearly 20 threatened or endangered species including river otter, southwestern bald eagles, southwestern willow flycatchers, and lowland leopard frogs.

Already suffering acute stress from human development, it isn't known how long the waterway can continue to support nonhuman species depending on it for survival.

Directions to the cleanup: Rockin' River Ranch State Park is located on the Verde River south and west of Camp Verde, Arizona. From 1-17, turn south onto Highway 260 (Exit 287) toward Camp Verde and follow Hwy. 260 south for 1.9 miles, then turn south (right) onto Oasis Road, follow Oasis Road down the hill and at the T-intersection turn south (right) on to Salt Mine Road, then drive south on Salt Mine Road nearly six miles, paralleling the Verde before reaching Beasley Flats.

The driveway to Rockin' River Ranch is on the left just beyond the USFS rest rooms and parking area and will be signed. Drive all the way in.

All those who plan to participate or those who need more information must contact either Chip Norton at 300-9013 or e-mail or Max Castillo at 639-0312.

Copyright 2009 Cottonwood Journal Extra, Cottonwood, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

© 2009 Cottonwood Journal Extra Cottonwood, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from DAS.

Original Publication Date: September 2, 2009

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