West Texas university seeks college students for river cleanup

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Participants in last year's Rio Grande clean up project work to remove an irrigation pipe.  Courtesy

Participants in last year’s Rio Grande cleanup project work to remove an irrigation pipe. Courtesy

Project will remove litter from the Rio Grande.

By Landon Penn   


Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, invites students from this college to a cleanup project along the Rio Grande River Nov. 7-9. Any undergraduate is able to participate, and geology students are particularly encouraged to apply.

“During the last 100 years the Rio Grande has undergone several hydrological changes,” said Leslie Hopper, project director of Adelante de Tejas at Sul Ross. Hopper has been involved in this project since 2009.

Water levels have declined due to dams and channelization at certain points of the river, Hopper said.

Students will contribute to river cleanup in Colorado Canyon for the weekend. They will assist in documentation of foreign objects found in the river and research the importance of keeping the land surrounding the Rio Grande clean.

Last year, “we successfully extracted a hazardous irrigation pipe from the middle of the river,” Hopper said. This took some time; the cleanup crew had to saw the pipe into pieces to allow for the removal of it, Hopper said.

During the weekend students will steer boats and hike through rugged terrain and mountains peaking at about 7,000 feet. Students will be on the river from about 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. both days. Students also will camp along the river.

Meals, including sandwiches, lasagna, sausages and tortillas, will be provided, from dinner Friday to lunch Sunday.

The National Parks Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife will sponsor the trip. Sul Ross will provide boats and equipment.

Sul Ross geology Professor Kevin Urbanczyk, an igneous petrologist, will lead the trip.

Students should bring hats and long-sleeved shirts and sunscreen. Participants should also be “prepared to get wet and muddy,” Hopper said.

The cost for students from this college is approximately $30 per student. The deadline to sign up is Oct. 31. Students should contact Hopper at lhopper@sulross.edu or 432-837-8648 for travel arrangements. So far, 12 Sul Ross students will make the trip.


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