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Michelle S. Badger
Cliff Whitlock removes invasive Russian olive trees along the banks of the North Platte River in Casper, Wyoming, on Sept. 27.

CASPER, Wyo. — Early in the morning on Sept. 27, National Public Lands Day, more than 500 volunteers gathered along the banks of the North Platte River during the Platte River Revival.

Volunteers equipped with gloves, trash bags, trash grabbers, wader boats and four-wheelers spent the morning removing litter and debris from the river and its banks. Other volunteers removed invasive Russian olive trees and wrapped wire barriers around native trees to protect them from beavers.

Upwards of 100 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints volunteered in this year’s event.

Teenagers Chase and Cody Hull from the Casper Wyoming 4th Ward attended this year’s event even though their parents were out of town.

“I want to help the community clean up the river," Cody said. "It's hard work, but I’m enjoying it."

Layne Luckow, who works with the City of Casper Street Department, supervised the Hull brothers. “The fact they showed up is a good thing!”

Cliff Whitlock, also from the Casper 4th Ward, brought his four-wheeler and could be seen late in the morning busily using a winch to haul up large branches of Russian olive trees that had been cut down.

Other groups from the community worked side-by-side with LDS Church members in cleaning and removing the trash and other debris from the riverbank. Kyla Alvey of the Casper Wyoming 5th Ward and her sister-in-law Amber Theilbar have been attending this volunteer event for the past six years.

“We have done this for several years and we just really enjoy it,” Alvey said.

According to Ryan Dorgan of the Casper Star-Tribune, “The Platte River Revival Volunteer Day, now in its eighth year, has drawn more than 3,000 volunteers who have planted over 300 trees and removed over 1 million pounds of debris from the North Platte River.”

“We have been told that the community involvement in Casper for this project is unparalleled in the country," City Manager John Patterson said.

Families, businesses, scholastic organizations, Scouting programs and church groups, including the LDS Church, sponsored and participated in this year’s event.

Michelle Badger is the mother of four wonderful children, the author of "A Wheat Free Life" and "A Wheat Free Life vs. the Holidays," and the public affairs media specialist for the Casper Wyoming Stake of the LDS Church. Email: [email protected]