Volunteers needed Sept. 14 to help clean trash from Eel River

Rusty metal, broken glass, bicycles, air conditioners, chairs and mud-logged tires fill the Eel River as it winds through North Manchester.

It’s a distressing rite of fall: the gathering of the faithful to clear the waterway for fish and other wildlife, and for anglers, boaters and birdwatchers. Many parts of the Eel north and south of North Manchester are clear and inviting. Yet large volumes of trash continue to collect in the town stretch of the river.

Over the past three years, more than 150 volunteers have pulled out 10,000 pounds of metal for recycling, 125 tires and 2½ dump trucks of trash. That was just from a 1-mile stretch.

So once again, the call is out: Adult volunteers are needed for the annual clean-up of a downtown stretch of the Eel on Saturday, Sept. 14. Because of the unusually large amounts of broken glass and rusted metal “stuff” in the river, the volunteers must be adults, says Terri Michaelis, coordinator for the Middle Eel River Watershed Initiative.

This year, volunteers will walk in a different stretch of the river, filling large canoes with the trash. The soggy task is arduous yet rewarding, the workers energized by amazing teamwork. Afterward, workers will find a light lunch waiting, donated and served by a grateful Rotary North Manchester.

The Initiative will provide gloves, trash bags and drinking water. Volunteers need to bring their enclosed water shoes, tennis shoes or boots – absolutely no sandals. Plan to trudge through sometimes waist-high or deeper waters. Plan for poison ivy, which loves the shoreline. Plan for bugs. Leave favorite clothes, cells and jewelry at home.

Volunteers will gather at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14 at the North Manchester Street Department, 407 Wabash Road. (Returnees note: This is a new put-in site.) They’ll begin with some quick lessons in safety and river quality.

Advance registration is required and participants must sign a release form. For more information, contact Terri Michaelis at 260-982-5101 or tmmichaelis@manchester.edu.

Initially funded by a $1 million Clean Water Act Grant, the Initiative is a Manchester University-led coalition of agencies and individuals who are determined to improve water quality, enhance recreation and promote conservation of natural resources in the middle Eel River watershed.

August 2013

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