Jared Cook of Kent, 35, helps two inexperienced rafters secure gear and other essentials to their raft. 
Photo by Kimberly Westenshiser.
Jared Cook of Kent, 35, helps two inexperienced rafters secure gear and other essentials to their raft. Photo by Kimberly Westenshiser.
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On a beautiful Saturday morning, April 20, rafts begin lining the shore of the Nisqually River. It's the second annual Nisqually River cleanup, meaning that along with the standard trappings and supplies for whitewater activities, these rafts are also outfitted with trash bags and garbage cans.

Last year, rafters and kayakers pulled out 2,000 pounds of trash from the river, but the amount collected this year was anticipated to be less, according to co-organizer Rebecca Post

The event came into being after an impromptu cleanup occurred on a guided course down the Nisqually. Post said she noticed a lot of trash in the water and began encouraging the other rafters and kayakers to pick out what they could. The following year it was made into an official, organized event.

A number of things have been found in the Nisqually that deviate from what is conventionally understood as trash. Last year, a portion of deck was removed, as well as a few abandoned kayaks left in wooded portions of the river. Two cars are reportedly still in the river, having floated down from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, though their removal poses some difficulty due to their location preventing adequate access to power tools.

A homeless camp along the banks of the river helped contribute to last year's large haul. The City of Yelm cleaned up the waste and debris that was left on land, but much of waste made its way into the river.

The event was hosted by the Nisqually River Council and the Nisqually Stream Stewards, as well as Paddle Trails Canoe Club, Washington Recreational River Runners and the Washington Kayak Club. 

The cleanup took place on two sections of the river, one running from the McKenna Park Boat Launch to Nisqually Park, a course that runs approximately nine miles. The other went from Nisqually Park to the Sixth Avenue Water Access site, running about eight miles. 

A barbecue was held after the cleanup for participants at McKenna Park.