The amount of trash that is either carelessly tossed in the river, or ends up there from being washed away, can be alarming.
A program known as Project AWARE is arriving locally next month and will look to not only clean up the Iowa River, but also teach stewardship for the future.
Project AWARE stands for A Watershed Awareness River Expedition, and it is the Iowa Department of Natural Resources annual volunteer river clean up effort. This year's effort will clean a 90-mile stretch of the Iowa River from Dows to Marshalltown July 7 through 14.
Volunteers collect trash from a previous Project AWARE river clean up effort. This year the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will focus the effort on the Iowa River with local volunteers needed July 13 and 14.
"We can all agree that garbage should not be in our streams," Brian Soenen, project coordinator of Project AWARE, said.
Volunteers can either help out in the canoes or along the land on the banks of the river. They can work for part of a day all the way up to the entire week, if they choose and the only cost is for meals. Much of the trash will get recycled and some made into works of art.
"We'll actually take some of the trash and create sculptures out of it," Lynette Seigley of the DNR, said.
Project Aware local
clean up schedule
July 13 - Daisy Long Park to Timmons Grove- camping at Riverview Park Friday night.
July 14 - Riverview Park to Three Bridges Park
July 13 - 7:30 p.m. - Riverview Park - educational presentations.
July 14 - 2:30 p.m.. - Riverview Park - Artist David Williamson will take trash and meld it down
For other event listings visit www.iowaprojectaware.com
The local effort will have participants float from Daisy Long Park near Union to Timmons Grove Park near Marshalltown July 13. Then, the group will go from Riverview Park to Three Bridges Park the morning of July 14, before coming back to Riverview Park for lunch and other events.
The current low water level of the river is both a blessing and curse for clean up efforts. While the trash is able to be located easier in shallower water, the canoes they are taking could use more depth to float.
"Hopefully, we'll get rain between now and the event," Seigley said.
There will be several events surrounding the local effort. Educational sessions will be held at 7:30 p.m. July 13, and the artist will meld items to begin a sculpture at 2:30 p.m July 14, both at Riverview Park.
Even though cleaning the rivers is important for the environment, organizers believe getting people involved in the stewardship of the river is even more beneficial.
"The most important thing is the awareness part," Soenen said.
This is the 10th year for Project AWARE in the state as the previous nine efforts have cleaned up more than 700 miles of river and removed more than 180 tons of trash from rivers across Iowa.
For more information or to register, visit www.iowaprojectaware.com, or call 515-205-8587.