Volunteers pick up trash from Zumbro River - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Volunteers pick up trash from Zumbro River


ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC)- Each year, people venture onto the waters to have a fun and relaxing time, taking in all that nature has to offer. Yet, the lakes and rivers in the area do collect trash, and it is up to those who love the waters to spend the time to fully preserve them.

It is becoming a yearly project for people in Olmsted County; head out on the Zumbro River on a canoe and pick up any trash that they see along the way. It is their way of adding to the enjoyable atmosphere that canoeing down the river can provide.

"You don't think of all the trash that ends up in the river," explains Justin Bouwkamp, the owner of Boulder Dam Canoe and Kayak. "There's always clean-ups along the roads, but this needs to get cleaned up once in a while, too."

The clean-up efforts bring up the most interesting discoveries from the river floor.

"A washing machine, a dishwasher," explains Conor Fahy with Olmsted County Water Resources. "We get quite a bit of tires, I think this year we have about 10 to 12 tires. There's a car engine down there."

Each year, more and more volunteers head into canoes and get on the Zumbro River, hoping to make this stretch of water a more visually pleasing and healthy environment.

"Some of the guys picked up the day before and had the bags on beaches in places, so we just kind of did that," explains Irv Plitzuweit, one of the volunteers for the day. "We did have a plastic chair."

As the clean-up of the river went on, comments quickly came in.

"I've already seen a couple groups tubing down the river saying it looks good and it looks really clean," says Fahy. "They were excited to keep going."

If not for the efforts of the volunteers, the Zumbro River would quickly become a deterrent for anyone wanting to enjoy the waters of Olmsted County.

"It would become a place where you wouldn't want to tube down the river, you wouldn't want to take canoes or kayaks," says Fahy. "It would become an eyesore. It's already kind of dark and murky as it is."

Yet, the effort of one year's work will never be enough.

"It'll be constant," says Bouwkamp. "You'll always have to maintenance it. You can never get it all, because with every big flood, big storms, they'll move more trash into the waters."

That means the work of river clean-up volunteers is far from over.

There were three rounds of canoe trips from right behind the Rec Center to Essex Park on West River Road Northwest. Bags full of trash are collected on each of these trips from only a small portion of the Zumbro River.

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