“Fish Clean” stickers are shown in June 2021 on fishing bait containers at one of three Austin retailers working with CRWD on its new initiative to remind local anglers to not litter. This is in response to fishing-related litter frequently being found along local shorelines and waterways.

‘Fish Clean’ aims to cut shoreline litter

CRWD uses Austin Area Foundation grant to target anglers

July 27, 2021 — Anglers who enjoy fishing in the Cedar River Watershed are getting a visual reminder this summer to not leave trash behind, including along shorelines.

Cedar River Watershed District is placing “Fish Clean” stickers on dozens of bait containers for earthworms and wax worms sold at local retailers Runnings, Reed’s 4th Avenue and Ankeny’s Mini-Mart #1 near East Side Lake. A $500 grant from the Austin Area Foundation is covering the cost of the stickers and other outreach to encourage anglers and others not to litter.

Here’s a video on “Fish Clean”: https://youtu.be/xctNbUudHfY

Thyna Nguyen, an incoming senior at Austin High School, designed the “Fish Clean” graphic as part of her school’s community service program.

CRWD outreach coordinator Tim Ruzek came up with the “Fish Clean” initiative after frequently finding fishing-related litter along the shorelines of East Side Lake and the Cedar River State Water Trail. This has included finding discarded fishing bait containers, packaging for fishing lures, fishing line along with food and beverage trash left with those items by anglers.

Thyna Nguyen, an incoming senior at Austin High School, designed the “Fish Clean” logo as part of the school’s community service program.

“Littering is frustrating but it’s especially disappointing when it’s done by someone who came to the river or lake to enjoy fishing — that makes no sense,” Ruzek said. “With the ‘Fish Clean’ stickers, we’re hoping to reach some of those anglers with this message and reminder to take out what they bring to the river or lake.”

An array of fishing-related litter lies along the Cedar River State Water Trail near Austin’s Marcusen Park stadium in July 2020 after being collected by CRWD staff from a popular fishing spot.

The Austin Parks & Recreation Department also has worked this summer with CRWD to place lids on trash barrels near the water, including along the Cedar River at Austin Mill Pond, due to issues at times with the wind blowing trash out of city garbage cans into the nearby shoreline and water.

CRWD this summer also has seen an uptick in the number of volunteer groups seeking to clean litter from public places, shorelines and in waterways, Ruzek said. Volunteers have used 4-foot litter grabbers bought two years ago by CRWD with a $500 grant from the Austin Area Foundation as well as smaller litter grabbers acquired this year by the Austin Park & Rec.

Overall, the Austin community now has at least 30 litter grabbers available to the public for cleanup projects. CRWD and Park & Rec each have at least 10 litter grabbers, with another 10 split between the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center and Austin Public Library, where people can check out litter grabbers with a library card.

Volunteers with the Mower County DFL take a break in July 2021 with litter grabbers borrowed from CRWD for cleanup up the shorelines of the Cedar River near Austin’s downtown dam.

Cleanups in and along the waterways are part of CRWD’s Adopt-A-River initiative started a decade ago. This volunteer-driven effort has led to hundreds of tons of garbage and debris along with more than 1,100 tires being removed from the Cedar River and tributary streams in Mower County.

If interested in doing a cleanup project or adopting a stretch of a local waterway, contact CRWD’s Tim Ruzek at 507–460–4577 or tim@mowerdistrict.org.

Fishing-related litter in fall 2016 along the Cedar River State Water Trail below the Ramsey Dam, just outside of Austin.

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