365 Days of Hiking - Don't Trash Where You Splash
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365 Days of Hiking

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Floatin’ the Frio + Keepin’ Texas Beautiful

By Julie Sondecker with @365DaysOfHiking

338 days ago, I decided to challenge myself to go hiking every single day for a year and pick up trash along the way. I know it sounds a little kooky, but I got tired of seeing trash on my favorite Texas trails and decided to do something about it!

As a native Texan I’ve grown up floating various rivers around the state, so when I was approached by the awesome folks from the Texas Hill Country River Region to float down the Frio and scoop up trash along the way, my answer was immediately yes! I was so excited to give a fun activity like floating the river a dual purpose. So on Earth Day 2018, a crew of my seven closest friends and I grabbed our tubes, trash pickers and 14 mesh bags and hit the Frio.

During our four-and-a-half hour float we relaxed, enjoyed the beautiful nature surrounding us and went fishin’ for trash left behind by other tubers. At first glance we’d just find a can or two floating along the surface of the water or a washed-up Gatorade bottle by the shore, but the longer we floated the more trash we began to uncover. About half way through our float the amount of trash in the water quickly increased, with a lot of cans and bottles just out of reach at the bottom of the river. By the end of our float we filled the 14 bags we brought and still had to leave behind an incredible amount of trash.

This experience of taking one of my trash “hikes” to the water taught me three very important things:

  1. It’s super fun and easy to pick up trash while you’re floating, and we need more people to help clean our beautiful rivers.
  2. It’s incredibly important for people enjoying the Frio, Sabinal and Nueces to have a game plan for their trash. Don’t trash where you splash, folks! It just doesn’t make sense.
  3. If everyone does their due diligence to show our rivers the respect they deserve, then we can continue to enjoy them for many generations to come!

Whether it’s your first or fiftieth trip to Uvalde County, it’s imperative to have a plan for packing out all your trash when enjoying the river, and I highly encourage you to consider doing your own little clean up along the way! Even if it’s just snagging an extra can or two out of the water, lots of little actions add up quickly to big, impactful change! If you love enjoying all the amazing natural amenities our Texas rivers have to offer, then it’s your responsibility to respect and protect them too.

Happy floating this summer and beyond and don’t forget to keep our Texas rivers beautiful!

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