As part of Keep Denton Beautiful’s 33rd annual Great American Cleanup, the A-train Rail Trail got a weekend face-lift, with Bike Denton volunteers removing about a dozen trash bags’ worth of litter Saturday morning.

Typically, Denton’s cleanup is held as a single-day event, but this year’s runs the entire month of March. Carly Weld, program and volunteer coordinator for Keep Denton Beautiful, said the change is helping distance groups and spread out supplies and tools — such as litter tongs, gloves and bags — more efficiently.

“The idea is straightforward — in Denton, we clean up roadways, waterways, parks and trails,” Weld said. “The change is just to ensure we could socially distance groups and provide supplies to everyone who’s going out and cleaning.”

Volunteers who have registered go to the Denton Civic Center on Fridays to pick up their supplies.

Weld said participation is down this year, likely due to the pandemic. In a typical year, KDB will register about 2,000 volunteers for the single-day cleanup, but this year’s monthlong version has seen just under 1,000.

Some of those volunteers include riders from cycling advocacy group Bike Denton, who spent Saturday morning picking up litter along the A-train Rail Trail stretch between Shady Oaks Drive and Loop 288. About a dozen participants were split between two different groups, each starting at opposite sides of the stretch to maximize their coverage area.

In a twist on typical trash removal methods, Bike Denton volunteers towed bags along using their bicycles. After a few hours of work, about a dozen bags of trash were disposed of at dumpsters on Railroad Avenue.

Bike Denton organizer Suzi Rumohr said Bike Denton volunteers have been part of the annual cleanup for years.

“It’s a really good fit,” Rumohr said. “The litter is definitely an eyesore to anyone using the rail trail, and here you’ve got the people who are using the trail.”

Rumohr, a Texas Woman’s University librarian and advocate for local biking infrastructure, said events like the Great American Cleanup help get more people involved in improvement efforts.

“I think it’s great to put time into making your community better,” Rumohr said. “It’s good to get people used to that.”

Many of the volunteers ride the rail trail on a regular basis, including Denton ISD teacher Charla Carlat, who uses it for her daily bicycle commute from Lake Dallas.

“When they built the rail trail, it changed my life,” Carlat said — although she added that one major reason she showed up Saturday is that litter is a “terrible” problem on some stretches of the path.

Keep Denton Beautiful will continue to facilitate local cleanups through the rest of the month.

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