An ever-growing group of Riversport River Protectors work to clean up the Oklahoma River for all

Great State

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The lowest point in Oklahoma City’s elevation is no longer the low point of our treatment of the environment.

“It was sort of a dividing line in the city,” recalls Executive Director at RIVERSPORT Foundation, Mike Knopp, “that the people turned their back on.”

Over the past 20 years, people like Knopp worked to make the Oklahoma River into a focal point for the city, lined with boat houses, recreation hubs, an Olympic training center, and riverside trails.

“The eyes of the world are, literally, on this venue,” he argues. “We had an internationally televised event this year.”

With increased attention came the eyes that saw all the trash that still collects when the rain falls and the wind blows.

“It is, pretty much, plastic and styrofoam,” says Brent Allen.

When he moved back to the Oklahoma where he grew up, he brought back a passion for scaling up a big clean up.

“The process is actually the evolution of waste management,” he states. “It’s about people being able to take the initiative on changing things and gathering science.”

It’s been a few years since the Riversport River Protectors started picking up trash along the river, using canoes and kayaks to put trash in donated coffee sacks.

“You have to take ownership in taking care of the places where you choose to play,” Allen continues.

They are an almost all volunteer army helping solve an old problem, but with the hope of changing minds in the future.

“As we build an outdoor culture this is going to go along with it,” says Knopp.

On this fall day the river looks pretty good, but Brent insists there is plastic and styrofoam still littering the banks every few feet.

It’s a never-ending job to keep it clean.

Fortunately, the number of people willing to help keeps growing.

Allen says, “This is how we build the new Oklahoma.”

The Riversport River Protectors are also on Facebook.

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