The Gila Watershed Partnership will be hosting a “dispersed” San Francisco River cleanup May 23-May 31.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing together large groups of people is not possible this May, but the GWP is challenging folks to maintain the social distancing guidelines and do their part to help keep the river clean over a period of several days.

“We are hoping that the extra time and incentives will encourage participation that will match what we’ve had in the past,” said Kara Barron, the science and outreach manager for the partnership.

Barron said the last cleanup they had in March had 50 participants, and the average is usually around 30. She pointed out any amount of garbage removed is a win.

The San Francisco River cleanup is part of an ongoing agreement GWP has with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and part of it involves the partnership monitoring water equality.

“We have specific sites that we go to do the garbage cleanup, and we usually have people weigh the garbage so that we can get an idea on what’s going on out there and what our impact is,” said Barron.

The San Francisco River is a 159-mile-long river in the southwest United States, the largest tributary of the Upper Gila River. The river originates near Alpine and flows into New Mexico before re-entering Arizona and joining the Gila downstream from Clifton.

“To get a feel for how many people go out, and how much garbage they’re able to collect, we’re asking people to take selfies of themselves and their garbage and either share those with us on social media,” she said.

Barron also said the first 50 participants who register and send in their selfies will be entered to win a GWP water bottle and the first 35 will also receive a $10 restaurant voucher.

For more information, go to or contact Barron at or (928) 424-3886

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