Volunteers needed for river cleanup

Trash piles up along the river, including this area near the dam. An Earth Day project to clean up the banks will be held from 10 a.m. to noon April 24. Volunteers are needed.

Friends of the Big Sioux River are calling for volunteers in Flandreau for an Earth Day cleanup project that stretches from Sioux Falls to Watertown.
The April 24 event will include picking up trash along the river in Flandreau in as many places as the group has help. The city has plans to haul the trash that is collected to the landfill.
Any civic organizations or businesses that want to get involved are asked to contact Steven Dahlmeier at 864-9011. Individuals also can sign up on the groups Facebook page, under events.
Work will begin at 10 a.m. at the city park and will conclude at noon. Participants are asked to come 15 minutes early to fill out a waiver and get their trash bags, gloves and bug spray, which will be provided. Volunteers also may want to wear pants, long sleeved-shirts and protective shoes and bring sunscreen, their own gloves, a water bottle and grabbers if they have them.
If enough help is available, the group may be able to clean the banks in the park and near the Isaack Walton plus the areas near the dam and behind the football stadium, said Dahlmeier, a Flandreau native and board member of the group.
“If we get enough volunteers, I’d love to do the area around the dam,” he said. That area is in the public eye for work that may include the removal of the dam and other efforts to make the area better for recreation and picnicking.
Mayor Dan Sutton hopes people in the community help with the clean-up effort. “I just think it’s a great event.”
Friends of the Big Sioux, which formed eight years ago, has goals to improve the river’s quality, including improving the bacteria in the water, to create a healthier environment. The river receives runoff for agriculture, industries and communities, for example.
“The river is impaired. It has got a lot of problems,” he said. “One component that gets people more involved is trash cleanup.”
The group will have four cleanup sites in Sioux Falls, one in Flandreau and a group in Watertown that day.
“It’s always good to pick up trash. It’s just going to get deposited somewhere else,” he said. “It’s good to keep the river clean.”
Many of the things found during cleanup efforts are trash that has blown from garbage trucks, dumpsters or other areas. The most common finds are plastic bags, he said. “We see them everywhere. They’re caught in roots and in the trees.”
In addition, there typically are bottles and other garbage. Sometimes there are bigger objects, such as old tires, that may have floated away in a flood and gotten stuck along the river’s shore.
The river is one place volunteers can make a difference, Dahlmeier said.
Anyone is welcome to volunteer, but minors will need to be accompanied by an adult, he said.
“It takes a lot of hands to make the river itself clean. A lot of people need to step up.”

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