Amid high water, Friends of Pool 9 holds another successful river clean-up

Navigating a buoy that’s seen its better days ... Friends of Pool 9 members (left to right) Bruce Carlson, Bob Henkel, Gus Kerndt, Glen Reed and Jim Kerndt (in tractor) move a battered red navigation buoy from the shoreline at Brennan Landing in Lansing to the waiting dumpster during the Spring 2022 River Clean-Up of Pool 9. Photo courtesy of Driftless Mode, Bob Modersohn.

Barrel loads of hard work and dedication ... Volunteers land ashore and begin the process of smashing plastic barrels and other items into the Vernon County dumpster during the 2022 Friends of Pool 9 Clean-Up. Submitted photo.

submitted by Friends of Pool 9

It was a warmer than usual late April day when the Friends of Pool 9 (FOP9) members and volunteers boarded their boats in groups of two, three and more for their annual Mississippi River Clean-Up Day. The pool water level was just below 12 feet, which is about four feet above normal.

This makes it easier in some cases to retrieve trash scattered among the backwater islands, but also makes it more difficult with increased stream velocity and river flow at nearly 100,000 cubic feet per second. However, regardless of the obstacles, these seasoned “river-veterans” prevailed.

Boats streamed from the VFW Landing in Lansing, Village Creek and Big Slough Landings, Black Hawk Park, De Soto Landing, and Ferryville City Landing farther downstream. Some walked the beaches north of Lansing, others walked the Lansing Marina perimeter, some the Highway 82 dike, and still others cleaned the Army Road out of New Albin, the Blask (Dairyland Power Plant) Landing at Genoa, WI, the Bad Axe Landing, as well as De Soto Landing. More than 100 climbed into their boats that April day to rid the river of tons of trash. And they did!

Ric Zarwell, FOP9 coordinator at Black Hawk Park, remarked that it was an enthusiastic and hardworking group of volunteers that brought boatloads of plastic barrels to the site, along with other items of plastic and Styrofoam. Thirty-eight barrels made their way from the river to the dumpster.

Volunteers at the Ferryville Landing site in Wisconsin transported their trash to the Lansing (Brennan Landing) dumpster site. Several boats were launched from Ferryville to collect the lower portion of the pool. River trash collected included an abundance of plastic barrels, tires and smaller items.

Friends of Pool 9 President Alex Galema commented, “How pleased we are to see the number of volunteers that came out to help clean the river, and the fact that they all share the responsibility of keeping Pool 9 one of the cleanest on the Upper Mississippi. It makes you proud to be part of the organization.”

Dave Mooney, Allamakee County Waste Management, reported the Lansing dumpster contained 1.7 tons (3,400 pounds) of debris removed from the river corridor. Staci Sanborn, Viroqua County (WI) Waste Management, reported the dumpster at Black Hawk Park contained 1.2 tons as well, all from the April 23 clean-up event. The total collected in the 2022 clean-up was 5,800 pounds (2.9 tons), an astonishing 580 pounds for each of the 100 volunteers.

Adding this amount to previous years brings the total poundage of trash removed from Pool 9 since 2006 to 168,800 pounds, which is 84.4 tons. Once again, 100 concerned citizens donated 600 hours of their time to clean the river and that’s always a good sign. Volunteer hours from this one event alone are at 9,900 hours for Friends of Pool 9, Upper Miss Refuge, Inc.