2008 Project of the Year: Yellowstone River Clean-Up


Winner: Montana Conservation Corps

This summer, the Montana Conservation Corps teamed-up with the Yellowstone River Conservation District Council (YRCDC) and dozens of other groups to pull-off the longest recorded river clean-up in Montana history – and perhaps in the nation. From its headwaters in Yellowstone National Park to the Missouri River, the Yellowstone flows 551 miles and is the longest un-damned river in the lower 48 states. Although, the Yellowstone is treasured for its outstanding trout fishing, quieter sections for swimming, and dependable sugar beat and alfalfa crop irrigation, the stewardship of her resources falls short at times. Her shores are littered with trash – even in the most remote stretches of this grand and wild river.

For one week, four MCC MontanaYES program youth crews with 24 teenage participants, ages 14 to 16, and their eight AmeriCorps crew leaders, covered the length of the river to clean-up sixty-four public access points.  Each day, community organizations including scout troops, Lion’s Club members, conservation district staff, and other volunteers joined the teens to help with their efforts, logging a total of 325 volunteer days.  In one week, 18,320 pounds of trash and debris was removed from the banks of the Yellowstone River, including 1500 pounds of steel and 5,056 aluminum cans that were recycled, and 90 tires. Other partners included: nonprofit conservation districts representing communities along the river, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, and Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy, local service clubs, private landowners, and the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch Fund.