Updated: 07/17/2014 7:45 AM
Created: 07/16/2014 2:02 PM KSTP.com
By: Todd Wilson
The flooded Mississippi River is beginning to recede, and an abundance of trash is being left on the river’s banks. Now, volunteers have stepped in to clean things up.
The effort is called the Mississippi Riverboat Cleanup.
Mary Anderson was the first person off the boat after it dropped anchor near the city of Newport on Wednesday.
Anderson led all 32 volunteers through brush to the cleanup zone, where they got to work.
"I think we volunteer because we all use the waterways, and picking them up is just kind of our job," she said.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has designated five cleanup zones along the Mississippi River. Anderson and her group were cleaning up "Zone E" on Wednesday, which is nearly a mile-long stretch.
"It's just road trash,” Anderson said. “Things people are probably throwing out their boats or their cars, and it's making its way into the water.”
The Adopt-a-River Program began in 1989. Over the years, about 100,000 volunteers have covered more than 12,000 miles of shoreline, removing 6.4 million pounds of trash. This cleanup was scheduled for June 11, but because the water was too high it had to be canceled.
Chris Dukatz said the amount of waste they were picking up was upsetting.
"I'm finding a lot of plastic cans, plastic bottles, racquet balls, styrofoam … we found a lead pipe over here," Dukatz said.
Anderson said it’s great to see a group of people take time out of their day to make this a better place. She said it also makes you realize how wasteful people are.
Some of the trash Anderson and her crew collected will be used to build a symbolic sculpture that will be unveiled at the Minnesota State Fair. It’s made completely out of the trash picked up along the river.
As for the rest of the junk, it will be recycled by a local company.