The great South Platte
Stroll alongside Denver's South Platte River and you'll see cyclists and joggers dotting the paths. Emerald-headed mallards bob alongside kayakers in the river's riffles of whitewater. Under the surface, catfish linger in deep holes; on the banks, muskrats snuffle beneath the tall cottonwoods.
It's a beautiful sight, as befits an important river. The South Platte helped define Denver. The city's earliest settlements sprang up along the riverbanks, as did its first heavy industries.
But as Denver grew, the river became a dumping ground for trash and industrial waste. "People dumped on the river for 100 years," says Jeff Shoemaker, executive director of the Greenway Foundation, which helps guide river restoration. "We've only been at the cleanup for 27 years, so we still have work to do."