Volunteers needed for local river cleanups
CRWD seeking help with removing litter from Cedar, streams
AUSTIN, Minn. — Wednesday, July 11, 2018 — Volunteers are wanted to remove litter from local waterways this paddling season, including on Saturday as part of the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center’s annual river cleanup.
Nature center staff will lead community volunteers on a cleanup session from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on either the Cedar River State Water Trail or Dobbins Creek within the City of Austin as part of their 5th annual Eco-Blitz: Waste Week that started Monday. The cleanup — part of Cedar River Watershed District’s local Adopt-A-River program — will start at the nature center, 1304 21st St. N.E., in Austin before heading out.
“This is a fun and important way to leave our local waterways cleaner than how you find them,” said Luke Reese, director of the nature center.
Those interested in helping can pick up litter along the shorelines or get in the water to remove items, Reese said. Participants also will earn a free kayak or canoe rental ($10 value) from the nature center. Pre-registration is required with the nature before Saturday.
Last year’s cleanup drew more than 20 volunteers who pulled out 1,560 pounds of trash from the Cedar River and Dobbins Creek in the Driesner and Sutton park areas of Austin. Four bicycles, a laptop and lots of scrap metal were among the items.
CRWD also is seeking volunteers who would like to adopt a specific stretch of the Cedar River or other local stream to clean up or are interested in being contacted for a community cleanup. Those interested in getting in the water or staying on land to walk the shoreline are wanted for CRWD’s Adopt-A-River.
“Volunteers continue to make a big difference in making the Cedar River and other local streams cleaner by removing litter ever year,” said Tim Ruzek, CRWD’s outreach coordinator. “But we need more to step up and continue the great progress made over the past seven years.”
Since 2011, CRWD’s Adopt-A-River initiative — inspired by the state’s cleanup program — has involved dozens of volunteers removing many tons of garbage and flood debris, including more than 1,100 tires, from the Cedar River State Water Trail in Mower County. CRWD has created cleanup routes; lined up volunteers; assisted with cleanup logistics; and paid for the proper disposal of removed items.
Spruce Up Austin, a local nonprofit dedicated to planting trees in the community, conducted its third annual cleanup in late June along the public shoreline of East Side Lake, part of Dobbins Creek. Several wrestlers and coaches with Austin High’s wrestling team joined Spruce Up members for the cleanup. They removed about 50 pounds of trash — mostly plastic items like bottles, bags and food packaging — from the shoreline up to the roadway.
Greta Anderson of Spruce Up Anderson said the group has seen a decline in garbage along the lake.
“We are hopeful that clean parkways and shoreline encourages people to place trash in the multiple trash barrels provided at East Side Lake rather than litter,” Anderson said.
Local resident Corey Kreutzbender last week also removed more than 100 pounds of trash from the public area along Ramsey Dam’s west side in north Austin as part of CRWD’s Adopt-A-River initiative.
Other cleanups by Adopt-A-River participants and CRWD staff are in the works for later this year.
In 2017, some of CRWD’s Adopt-A-River volunteers removed garbage from the Cedar River, including the Austin Rotaract Club in August with its annual cleanup from Ramsey Dam to Austin Mill Pond (about 3.5 river miles). Cleaning this stretch annually since 2011, Rotaract removed a few tires and litter that filled a trash can — considerably less than the 500 pounds of trash Rotaract members removed the first year.
Larry Callahan, a CRWD employee, also organized family and friends in late August to clean the Cedar River from County Road 5 to County Road 6 in Lyle Township, covering nearly five river miles. After doing several cleanups, the Callahans also have seen a large drop in the amount of litter on the river.
Major cleanup work on the Cedar River — unrelated to CRWD’s initiative — also occurred last summer in Iowa just south of Mower County, going 55 river miles from the Minnesota-Iowa border through Mitchell and Floyd counties. According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, volunteers with Project AWARE removed 28 tons of trash overall from the Cedar River in Iowa, including 368 tires, 14.9 tons of scrap metal and 2.5 tons of recyclable material, such as cardboard, glass and plastic.
Anyone interested in CRWD’s local Adopt-A-River initiative or in any upcoming river cleanup projects that need volunteers should contact Ruzek at 507–460–4577 or email@example.com.
To pre-register for Saturday’s activities and other Eco-Blitz events, contact the nature center at 507–437–7519 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Eco-Blitz details are available online at www.hormelnaturecenter.org.
Cedar River Watershed District
In April 2007, state and local officials formed CRWD in response to the Cedar River Watershed’s top, worst-known floods occurring in 2000 and 2004. The CRWD’s top priorities are aimed at reducing flooding and improving water quality within the Cedar River Watershed.
Cedar River Watershed District, 1408 21st Ave. N.W., Austin, MN, 55912