Unusual trash discovered during annual Mississippi River clean-up

The Galema boat carried sons Neil and Alex and parents Gary and Karen Galema. This is the tenth year the group has joined together to clean the backwater north of Lansing. Their boat was loaded with metal and plastic barrels, as well as other metal and styrofoam debris. Submitted photo.

Friends of Pool 9 volunteers gathered at the VFW building in Lansing (and other sites around the Pool) for the group’s eleventh Annual River Clean-Up Saturday, April 18. Registration data shows the group numbered about 115, slightly above last year’s total of 112. Area youth again were able to clean both sides of the three-mile long Hwy. 82 dike. This has been one of the most difficult areas in the entire Pool to clean because of the rocky slopes on both sides of the highway down to the river’s edge. Quart beer bottles in brown paper bags were common, as were auto and truck tires. With the effort of two young men from Waukon the group was able to remove a couch from the river, as well as a television set, a desk and hoards of beer cans and plastic water bottles.  Don Thran, FOP9 coordinator for the Hwy. 82 dike clean-up commented that it was “probably the worst it has been for years” for that area.
An unusual stash of iron was pulled from the river using the Fish and Wildlife Service winch boat. A train derailment had occurred in the Capoli Hollow area many years ago (1983) and debris remained just below the water’s surface all these years.  The eight guys aboard the boat removed iron spring coils and plates totaling several thousand pounds.
Eight boats had been assigned to collect debris at the upper end of the pool. A large amount of trash was found just downstream of Lock and Dam #8 at Genoa. The group found buoys and barrels washed to the back side of the channel islands, as well the ever-present plastic water bottles. Trash on the Iowa side of the valley was taken to the Army Road landing and loaded onto an Iowa DNR truck. Debris on the channel side went to the dumpster at Black Hawk Park.
Ferryville and Lynxville volunteers collected along the eastern side of the Pool and on the islands in that area.  Debris consisted largely of styrofoam floats and barrels from docks, as well as plastic bottles, a full bed mattress, numerous tires on rims and other debris.  
Volunteers from the Heytman’s area (led by Sam Miller and Pat Murphy) collected along the Iowa side downstream to Dam #9. Their debris filled a trailer and was transported to the Lansing dumpster. Ten boats went out of Lansing to search the area north of town for debris trapped in the backwater islands.
Another job completed by volunteers on this river day was the installation of Friends of Pool 9 fire rings on beaches. For years campers had made temporary rock-rimmed fire rings, but they often moved up and down the beach leaving old, buried fire pits with glass or tin shards just under the sand. Unsuspecting children received numerous cuts in their feet as a result. The FOP9 fire rings are cemented in place with bags of concrete and the beaches are much cleaner as a result. Two teams of workers placed five new rings (and concrete) on the beaches and moved one to make it more usable for campers. This brings the total number of fire rings approved by FWS to 23 in Pool 9.

Through the river clean-up, FOP9 volunteers are living out the groups’ mission statement, “to protect and enhance the Mississippi River and foster the wise public use and enjoyment of it.”  
FOP9 appreciates the contributions of the Lansing VFW, Brennan Construction, Waste Management, Black Hawk Park, Iowa DNR, USF&WS, Jim Kerndt and his tractor, Dairyland Power, WXOW Channel 19 and the volunteers.
Longtime Friends of Pool 9 member Sue Papp made the following comment about the annual clean up day:  “There was a great turn out of people on a great day for a great cause. I’m so proud to be a part of river and nature caring people. We are making our lives and those who visit us a nicer place to be. Thanks to all the hard workers, I enjoyed the accomplishment.”
Tom Limbach, an FOP9 member that recently moved to the Lansing area and was on the FWS barge boat added that “It was a great experience to be with a group for the day and work hard picking up things, knowing that you’re making a difference.”
Visit FriendsofPool 9.org for more information on the group’s activities and the upcoming Mississippi River Adventure Day for kids planned for July 14.

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