Tom Ross: Water cycle never stops |

Tom Ross: Water cycle never stops

Tom Ross

— If you lost a pair of algae-covered zebra print sunglasses in the Yampa River this summer, I'm sorry to report that we couldn't do anything Friday to save them. They've gone to a better place.

And if you purchased duck number 265 in this year's Rubber Ducky Race but never saw it cross the finish line, I know who has your waterfowl.

On the other hand, if you misplaced a dirty diaper near the kayak course in August, you're just plain foul. I still can't believe I picked up that nasty piece of garbage with my bare hands and delivered it to the nearest trash receptacle.

I have to say that, diapers aside, I spent a very pleasant hour Friday traipsing the banks of the river with sixth-graders from Hayden and South Routt and the Christian Heritage School, a number of homeschoolers and one young fellow from the North Park Charter School. The students were in town to attend the Yampa Valley Science School, but Friday's event was the twice annual Yampa River Cleanup Day. It's a volunteer day established by Peter Van De Carr, of Backdoor Sports, years ago.

It's amazing how quickly the chore of pickin up trash evolves into an exciting scavenger hunt when 11-year-olds get involved.

Makenzie Stine told me that during the same event in 2010 she thought for a brief time she had hit the jackpot.

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"I found a plastic Easter egg with gummy candy in it," Stine said.

How did it taste?

"I wasn't allowed to touch it," she said. "My mom wouldn't let me."

Sondra Boyd, a resource teacher at Hayden Middle School, reveled in the mild autumn weather.

"Last year we had a blizzard," Boyd said. "A lot of the kids were sick the next day."

Dylan Wall, of Hayden, told me that he learned during Science School how the water cycle that the river is a part of never ends. Precipitation leads to surface runoff, which allows evaporation to take place, which in turn results in condensation, which can lead to a September blizzard as the cycle renews itself.

With the late snowmelt this season and high riverflows, the water cycle was very busy. However, it's apparent that fewer people were able to recreate on the river and there seems to have been a corresponding reduction in the amount of trash to be picked up. I saw only one orphaned sandal pulled from the river Friday.

Still, Justin Peretz was clearly disturbed by the trash he encountered.

"People don't know how to take care of the river," he said. "I think it's really a sad thing. The river is a habitat to fish and other animals. It's just like the earth is to us."

Well said, Mr. Peretz.

Cerra Skufca not-so-subtly suggested that people who litter are thoughtless.

"It's probably because they don't have anywhere to put it," she said. "They don't think — I'll say that."

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

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