More than 100 volunteers assist with Friends of Pool 9 Mississippi River Clean-Up

The Highway 82 "dike walkers" crew from De Soto, WI completed another difficult but successful cleaning of the rock embankments along the highway. This portion of the Wisconsin highway has been adopted by Friends of Pool 9 and is cleaned every year by the group. Submitted photo.

Jerry Boardman (a.k.a. the "buoy man") pulls four buoys at once to a Coast Guard Day Marker for pick-up during the annual Friends of Pool 9 2017 river clean-up held Saturday, April 29. on the Mississippi River. He and Don Lathrop pulled out a record 18 buoys during this year's clean-up effort. Submitted photo.

submitted by Friends of Pool 9

More than 100 volunteers gathered to clean the Mississippi River during the annual Friends of Pool 9 River Clean-Up Day Saturday, April 29. It proved to be a somewhat cooler and more uncomfortable day (especially compared to the previous weekend) with temperatures on the river around 40 degrees and a brisk east wind blowing.

Volunteers had begun work on the river the week before with the Heytman crew gathering their debris and vacated docks at the landing. Jerry Boardman and Don Lathrop pulled a record 18 red and green buoys from the backwater, and others had also dropped off river debris at the Lansing location on the Brennan riverfront property in preparation.

While the food staff prepared sack lunches for all, volunteers walked the three-mile stretch of the Highway 82 dike, loaded boats to clean beaches and reset fire rings, boated backwater areas and walked islands collecting trash. They collected all sorts of smaller debris in the backwater area below the confluence of the Upper Iowa and the Mississippi in an area known as Iowa Big Slough.  This area was inundated with a huge amount of trash following record flooding on the Upper Iowa River last fall. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, using a barge and long-reach excavator, removed the larger items from Big Slough, some of which included propane tanks and camper fragments, in cooperation with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in the weeks prior to the clean-up date.

Smaller debris consisting of tires, bottles, oil and other fluid containers, carpeted platforms, plastics and other items were common in the debris field area. Plastic and metal barrels were once again prominent at the upper end of the pool, as were older water-soaked pieces of Styrofoam. An unusual number of television sets were pulled from the river, along with tires and other items.

The trash collected at each of the three sites, as reported by Allamakee, Crawford and Vernon County Waste Management, reached almost 10,000 pounds. The Ferryville, WI dumpster had 1,420 pounds, Black Hawk Park had 3,540 pounds and Lansing had 4,880 pounds of trash. This totaled 9,840 pounds or 4.92 tons of trash removed from the river corridor by the 107 volunteers this year, in a combined 925 hours of work.

In addition to the trash, a local collector recycled a moderate amount of metal, bringing the collection total to well over five tons for 2017. In 2016 the clean-up effort removed more than 13,000 pounds. In 2015 and several years earlier the total annually exceeded 20,000 pounds.

Over the past 12 years, Friends of Pool 9 clean-up events have removed thousands of pounds of trash from the Mississippi River. The trash total for those years has reached 130,000 pounds (65 tons). This has been accomplished with a volunteer effort of almost 8,000 hours (7,925 hours). "Friends of Pool 9 thanks all those that have given their time and energies over the years to make the river a clean and enjoyable resource," river clean-up organizers shared. "It makes one proud to be part of the 800-plus membership whose primary goal is to make Pool 9 one of the best on the 261-mile Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.

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