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Learn about our Clean Up Effort along Tucson's creeks and rivers

My name is Andrea Troyer and I am the River Run Network Program Coordinator at Watershed Management Group. I moved to Tucson in August 2022 through a year-long volunteer program after graudating from college. I am from the East Coast in Virginia, and so many people asked me prior to leaving, “Why are you moving to Tucson to work with water? There’s no water there.” My knowledge of rivers and hydrology was based on Virgina's consistent rains and constant rivers, so I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into myself coming to Tucson. 

Since I've started, and I have a completely different perspective of what the water crisis and conservation efforts look like here in Tucson and the Southwest. Since starting my time at WMG, I learned quickly that enough water falls on the city of Tucson than what the population demands, we just need to implement ways to harvest and conserve water and keep it within our watershed.

WMG sees hope and optimism about the future and are striving towards solutions that benefit the watershed, communities, and ecosystem. I would hear stories about the rivers and how they’ve shifted over time due to excessive groundwater pumping. What impacted me the most was the community and network of people from all experiences and levels of knowledge coming together to make Tucson a place that thrives in the future. 

As someone who graduated in the Spring 2022 from college with a degree in Environmental Science, I struggled to see how my personal efforts were making a difference in something as large as the climate crisis and water shortage. My work with the River Run Network has shown me what it’s like to be a part of the change and help restore the heritage of Tucson’s creeks and rivers, one step at a time. The rivers have stories to tell. For me, that means getting into the creek and being able to understand their past and quirky personalities in order to advocate and better care for our rivers. 


One of my main projects I’ve been working on is the “Let’s Clean Up our Rivers” initiative along the Rillito River, Pantano Creek, and Santa Cruz River. In December 2022, we had our first clean up where we picked up trash along the Rillito at Campbell Ave. Since then we've been along Pantano Creek near Ft Lowell Park, the Rillito River near Columbus Blvd picking up trash as well as removing small pockets of Arundo donax, and recently along the Santa Cruz River near Irvington Rd in March.  

By March 2023, we’ve collected 117 bags worth of trash and have had 85 River Run Network volunteers participate. These riparian areas are a wildlife corridor, so picking up trash is impacting these diverse ecosystems as well as our waterways. These events have been fun to participate in and engage with people in the community that are passionate and enthusiastic about making a difference in our creeks and rivers. 

Visit our website to learn more about our effort and sign up for an upcoming clean up! I hope to see you at the creek!