What a week!! We had the pleasure of hosting the Iowa DNR’s Project AWARE the week of July 11th thru 15th. AWARE stands for A Watershed Awareness River Expedition, and that was exactly what it was! An expedition is described in the dictionary as a journey or voyage undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose, especially that of exploration. And this group of people, hundreds of generous volunteers, explored the absolute depths of the Des Moines River to dig up it’s buried treasures! Treasures that included a dirt bike, several refrigerators, bathtubs, a dumpster, a complete boat, and more!! There were tons (literally) of trash that was hauled out of the river as well. This year 40 tons, 80,062 pounds, of trash was removed from the 52 river miles that were tackled on the Lower Des Moines River. Luckily, due to the great volunteers and sponsors, 77% of that trash was able to be recycled!
Let’s Talk Trash! What exactly was removed from the river this year: 329 tires, 20.2 tons scrap metal, 4.3 tons recyclables (plastic, cardboard, bottles), 800 pounds of hazardous household materials (yeah – that was in OUR river), and 9.3 tons of trash. What alarming numbers! Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new era and everyone will do their part to help keep our river clean.
What did we do? We can’t take any credit for picking up or digging out any of that trash, but we did provide the volunteers with cold bottled Dutchman’s Store water, fresh homemade cookies, and 3 smiling cheerleaders (us) at each access point. We were lucky enough to visit with a majority of the volunteers and learn more about them and introduce them all to our great county! This was our first experience with Project AWARE and we LOVED it!! We would be happy to host any of them back at any time! And who knows, maybe next time you will see us out on the river!
Learn more! Project AWARE is held for a week each July. You can join in for an afternoon, a day, or the entire week! Planning ahead for next year? Start now! This year, 42% of the volunteers were newbies, so you won’t be alone! Next year marks the 15th year for this amazing event so stay tuned on the DNR website for more information: http://www.iowadnr.gov/Things-to-Do/Canoeing-Kayaking/Project-AWARE
More pictures of Project Aware are available on Google Photos: