Senior People Getting Ready for Paddling

Illinois Cleans Up Our Rivers During “It’s Our River Day” Events

By Various Contributors

This year, from late August and all through September, paddle clubs from around the state enlisted local volunteers to host “It’s Our River Day” cleanups. From the Sangamon to the Fox, and the Mackinaw to the DuPage, and many, many others, our Illinois rivers are much cleaner at the end of September than they were at the beginning. Low water and balmy temperatures usually combine to make late summer/early Fall an ideal time to clean up our rivers, so the IPC promotes “It’s Our River Day” cleanups statewide during this time.

On the Fox, “It’s Our Fox River Day 2022” was “a grand success” with over 50 different events, covering over 200 miles. According to organizers, nearly 1000 participants offered thanks for their river in the best way! River. Organizers thanked the “many different partners that made such an expansive event a reality.”

USRC Member Jenny Daab enjoys her fully loaded canoe at their Sangamon River Annual Cleanup

“Aquatic trash” (to put it politely) including hunks of rusted metal, broken glass, boards with rusty nails, beer cans, unlimited broken styrofoam pieces and pretty much anything else can harm fish and other wildlife that live in and around the river. But equally as important, a trashy river impacts the way we think about rivers. Are they unattractive places where people feel justified tossing in more trash or are they attractive places of connection to the natural world? Cleaning up rivers not only makes them an attractive place to be but also joins us all in community-wide efforts.  To protect a watershed, we must think and act as a watershed community.

Downstate, the Third Annual Mackinaw River Clean Up “Day” spanned 4 days and two weekends. Volunteers collected 69 tires and 4 truck loads of garbage over about 25 river miles. Organizers thanked “all the numerous people that stepped up to make a difference what a awesome community we have.”In the Petersburg area on the lower Sangamon River, volunteers from Menard County Trailways and Greenways cleaned up the Sangamon near Hurie Park in the Petersburg area, west of Springfield. On one sandbar located just below the Petersburg dam, the group hauled away about 10 bags of garbage and 20 tires from the river. They send thanks to the City of Petersburg for hauling away the garbage!

On the Upper Sangamon near Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, 37 volunteers including a group from Kingfisher Kayaking and the University of Illinois Wildlife Society cleaned up a 6 mile stretch of the Sangamon River and collected close to ten cubic yards of trash, including rusty metallic scraps, broken glass, a snowboard and 12 tires. Disposal services were donated by Republic Services.

These are but a few scattered examples of community volunteers coming together to beautify their rivers, making them happier places for plants and wildlife and creating more enjoyable opportunities to connect to the natural world. While a person can remove trash any time and on every float, be sure and join your local community for “It’s Our River Day” events next year. Or sponsor a new event yourself or with your paddling club! You’ll meet some awesome people and help make a difference in your natural world.