By Julie Ann Madden
Last week volunteers picked up 28.1 tons of trash out of the Big Sioux River from Gitchie Manitou near Sioux Falls, S.D., to Westfield.
According to Iowa Project A Watershed Awareness River Expedition (AWARE) coordinator Lynette Seigley, 85 to 90 percent of the materials were recyclable.
Items collected included:
• 549 tires, including a few brand new never used on rims. The tires weighed 12,432 lbs. Volunteers removed the tires from the rims and cleaned the tires, then Bridgestone Tire Company takes the tires at no charge.
• 37,180 lbs. of scrap metal; this was to be redeemed by Lyon County, Sioux County and Plymouth County Conservation Services.
• 74 lbs. of cardboard;
• 2,719 lbs. of glass, which was higher than collected at other rivers in previous years;
• 1,514 lbs. of plastic, which the City of Ames will burn as part of their energy generation;
• 560 lbs. of hazardous materials, consisting of chemical and oil containers;
• 1,295 lbs. of non-recyclable materials such as styrofoam, furniture, wood, carpet, and other debris; and
• 290 lbs. of various other items.
On Monday, Seigley noted there were still a couple of weight tickets not totaled into the figures yet.
“We are just happy to be here and get the trash removed,” Seigley told The Akron Hometowner Friday morning as the volunteers entered the river in canoes and kayaks at Big Sioux Park, north of Akron, and headed down the river, passing by the Akron Boat Ramp, Ron Wilmot Boat Ramp and ending the week-long expedition at the old Mill Site boat ramp near Westfield.
The group also rescued a sick young Bald Eagle that was recovering well, she said, adding there were 368 volunteers who spent time on the river for at least part, if not every day, of the expedition.
Every evening volunteers camped in parks along the route. Community members were invited to join the volunteers in participating in informational events.
In Akron, the group took a tour to The Nature Conservancy, south of Westfield, after being served brownies provided by the Friendship & Service Club topped with ice cream furnished by the City of Akron.
“It’s like a summer camp for grownups,” said volunteer Shelly Weeks of Adel, who was participating in this project for the seventh year with her husband, James.