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Drought didn't dampen river cleanup spirits

Robert Brischetto Special to the Courier

Even as the drought in Bandera County entered its third year, the turnout in this year's cleanup of the Medina River was up over that of last year.

As many as 184 persons pitched in to remove about a ton and a half of trash from the Medina River for the 13th annual Medina River Cleanup on Saturday, May 4.

The drought caused the river to run underground several miles past Bandera City Park and 13 miles of the river was closed to paddling. Yet almost half of the participants paddled and dragged their canoes on the 37 miles of river that flowed through the county.

Although the river had not flooded during the past year, receding water made accessible the trash that remained from previous floods. Using a steel-cutting chain saw, a crew of 12 removed what appeared to be a washed-out bridge near the community of Medina.

Participants varied in age from five to 85 years - with a third between the ages of 11 and 20 and almost half between ages 50 and 70. There was greater participation this year from Bandera High School students and Scouts in San Antonio. A Facebook page was created to boost participation from teens.

Almost half - 46 percent - of the cleanup participants were Bandera County residents. Another quarter were from San Antonio. The cleanup effort brought together paddlers from 27 towns throughout Texas to join with local residents.

The community-wide effort was evident from the variety of ways in which locals contributed to the cleanup, bringing their tractors, pickups and equipment to pull out trash from the riverbed and banks. The city provided a dumpster for trash collection and free camping at the Bandera City Park. Contributors to this year's barbecue included Lowe's Market of Bandera and Bandera Wine and Spirits.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris served barbecue to 136 volunteers after the cleanup. Performing many of their original compositions, Rodney Joe Smith and John "Woody" Wood provided entertainment.

Sponsors of this year's cleanup included City of Bandera Economic Development Corporation, Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District, Bandera Business Association, Bandera County Commissioners Court, Lake Medina Conservation Society, Chuck and Janet Andres and Kathleen Casper and David Lackey.

The Medina River Protection Fund is a public charity established as a perpetual fund to engage residents in all parts of the county in a community-wide effort to preserve and protect the river. Donations are tax deductible.

More details and photos on the cleanup are available at www.MedinaRiver.net

Pictured: Johnny Boyle, Phillip Courtright and Milam Boyle

2. Volunteer line-up

3.Musicians- Rodney Joe Smith and John "Woody" Woods

4.Prari Blair, Lisa Harris, Carole Pachecano, Kathy Krohn, Genevieve Modarelli, Debby Bussey, Sharon Sloan and Barbara Brischetto

5. Cooking- Merry Borns, Helen Franks, Doug Franks, Bobby Harris, Pat Sullivan and Jerry Vanzant

6.Paddlers picking up pallets

7.Haulin' out an ersatz bridge

8.Bandera High School students Amber Rasberry, Shae Hopf, Kelly Nelson, G. Tinstay and Kelly Harris