More than 140 volunteers take part in Friends of Pool 9 Clean-Up

Volunteers unload the McGregor District U.S. Fish & Wildlife barge and the Maison Schoh flat boat at Black Hawk Landing, with 25 barrels and other debris having been collected by small boats and transferred to the barge from the area immediately below Lock & Dam #8. Submitted photo.

Residents from all over the tri-state area joined the clean up of the 90 square miles of the Mississippi River know as Pool 9 Saturday, April 30, from Genoa, WI to Lynxville, WI and Lock & Dam 10. Men and women of all ages, and whole families as well descended on the VFW building in Lansing willing to be assigned an area on the river to clean. In all, approximately 140 volunteers walked along the shorelines and searched the backwaters in boats to assist in the 2016 Friends of Pool 9 (FOP9) Clean-Up.

Volunteers came from Waukon, Decorah, Calmar, Caledonia, MN and New Albin. They also came from Genoa, De Soto, Ferryville and Lynxville in Wisconsin, as well as other unknown areas, all to take part in the event.

Everyone received a free bright green 2016 FOP9 Clean Up t-shirt, water, gloves, garbage bags, and a noon lunch in appreciation for their efforts. Turn-out this year was so great that the group ran out of t-shirts.

Thirty willing walkers, young and old alike, walked the ever-difficult Highway 82 dike crossing the river corridor. As usual, they removed an assortment of beer containers, plastic trash, car tires, and other items, such as an Interstate car battery, and filled 44 garbage bags. It’s no easy task to climb down the rock embankment on the shoulder of the road to retrieve a plastic drink cup, but that’s what they did, over and over again.

Groups were deployed to the beaches and sand bars to pick up trash and sift through the twenty-five FOP9 fire rings scattered along the river northward to Boot Jack Island across from Black Hawk Park. Sand from the rings was shoveled through metal screens and all the small pieces of debris collected. The fire rings are to be enjoyed by beach users, burning only wood. Plastic and other items are forbidden by the Upper Mississippi Refuge.

The Brennan Landing in south Lansing was used as a dumpster site, and with the help of a tractor provided by Jim Kerndt, the 40 cubic yard container was filled to capacity. Old docks and styrofoam floats were removed from the river and recycled. Metal and plastic barrels were again fairly common, but the trash in the middle part of Pool 9 has definitely lessened.

Another area of concentration for cleaning this year was the upper end of Pool 9, just below Lock & Dam 8 at Genoa, WI. Six boats were assigned to that area specifically and were able to retrieve a large number of barrels and debris from the islands. The dumpster at Black Hawk Park was filled with trash and 25 barrels and 15 tires remained alongside.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) landing was assisted by Park staff and offered the 35 FOP9 volunteers the use their facility as a bathroom and lunch site.

Groups of volunteers also cleaned the two-mile stretch along the Army Road east of New Albin, Visgers Landing and Millstone Landing, the County Road entrance to Black Hawk Park and the entrance road and parking area at the Dairyland Power boat landing. Boats also went out from Ferryville and Lynxville in Wisconsin as well as Heytman’s Landing along the Iowa shore. The Wisconsin volunteers recovered a record total of 42 tires, a refrigerator, and window frames that had been discarded into the river.

“In the end, it was a great day and gave all the volunteers a feeling of pride and satisfaction for what they just did,” commented organizers of the FOP9 Clean-Up. “Mother river must be feeling a lot better after getting all that trash out of her system.”

“Friends of Pool 9 would like to thank the Lansing VFW, Brennan Construction, Waste Management of Allamakee County, Prairie du Chien and Vernon County, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Black Hawk Park (USACOE), Jim Kerndt, and most importantly the140 individuals that gave their time and energy on a cool, windy and wet day to make this event a success,” FOP9 members shared. “There are few places along the Upper Mississippi River that have this kind of cooperation and support from local organizations and residents, removing thousands of pounds of trash from the river corridor annually. This is a major effort and shows the commitment and concern many have for our little part of the world. We feel that Pool 9 is special (because of the concerned people) and is one of the cleanest and best parts of the Upper Mississippi. Thanks again to all of you.”