More than forty volunteers reported to duty Saturday morning with boots, garbage bags and canoes, to show our Mississippi river a little appreciation.
Event organizer Mike O’Malley of the Mississippi Riverwatchers reports that the clear blue skies helped bring out our smiling river cleanup crew. He decided on short notice to include a Mississippi Mills shore line site on the Great Canadian Shore line Cleanup, a national shoreline stewardship program sponsored by the Vancouver Aquarium and the World Wildlife Federation and to use the event to launch the first annual Mississippi River Appreciation day. He expected a dozen or so folk to show up for our first year, but the final number of river cleaners exceeded forty! Mike noted,”We have been running impromptu river clean ups on the Appleton to Almonte stretch of the river since 1994, and over the years several groups have expressed interest in participating, I expect the cleanup will be an annual event”.
“I was impressed by the number of groups that sent volunteers”, said O’Malley. “The Mississsippi Riverwatchers were joined by volunteers from the Mississippi Valley field Naturalists, Almonte Amateur Radio Club, Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, Town of Mississippi Mills Council, Remax Almonte , Mississippi Power Corp and Enerdu Power Corp. We are also very grateful for the financial support of Tim Hortons Almonte, Remax Almonte, Patrice Independent Grocer , Levi Home Hardware ,Home Depot Carleton Place and the Town of Mississippi Mills, all who rallied on short notice.”
This year’s cleanup focused on the upper falls area along the Riverwalk, and the Metcalfe Park to Blakeney stretch of the river. Teams were also able to identify areas of interest for future cleanup. In total, over 700 kilograms of trash was hand picked from the shoreline and shallow portions of the river bottom, representing everything from recent discards, to artifacts reflecting the industrial history of the community from the days when the river bottom was the great repository for the unwanted.
The spirit of the day was reflected in the quote of the day from enthusiastic volunteer Jennifer Kingsley who said ” Who knew picking up garbage could be so much fun.”
O’Malley also said that amongst Saturday’s participants, the discussions reflected a shared appreciation of the Mississippi river as a defining community feature and that no one was left untouched by the hands on experience of transforming the Mississippi River into Our Mississippi River.
O’Malley hopes to see participation swell next year, and the scope of the cleanup expand to other Mississippi watershed communities.
Photos: © Debbi O’Malley 2012