Eel River biologists have a pretty good idea of what volunteer cleanup crews will find when they don gloves and boots and hit the waters on Saturday, Sept. 18:
Hot water heaters, large metal boxes, pipes, cement blocks, a bicycle, an old push mower, incredible volumes of broken glass … and many, many tires. All in the waterway on the southeast edge of North Manchester, just downstream from the historic 1872 covered bridge.
“I wanted to cry when I saw how bad it is,” said Terri Michaelis, manager of the Middle Eel River Watershed Initiative that is coordinating the cleanup that will serve a valuable dual purpose of educating people about the trash and debris that mars the waterway. The Sept. 18 cleanup will focus on the water; the riverbanks are another sad story for another project at a later date, perhaps by a volunteer group.
Adult volunteers will gather at the covered bridge at Sycamore and South Mill streets at 8:30 a.m. for the morning task. (Get map.) The initiative will provide gloves, bug spray, sunscreen, snacks and drinking water. Volunteers will want to wear long sleeves, long pants and boots, tennis shoes or waters shoes for protection against poison ivy and stinging nettle. Because of the danger of the unwieldy trash, participants must be at least 18 and must sign a waiver.
This half-mile stretch is the worst of the Eel River when it comes to trash, Michaelis said.
The river is shallow right now, so clean-up crews will wade down the river, filling and pulling canoes behind. Miami and Wabash county trucks will be parked downstream at the waste treatment plant for filling and disposal of the trash at the landfill. Additional open-bed trucks are needed, Michaelis said. Much of the metal will be recyclable, should somebody want to collect it.
Volunteer groups, clubs and individuals are invited to pitch in. To register to help, contact Michaelis at 260-982-5101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registration and waiver forms also are available on the website of the Middle Eel River Watershed Initiative at www.manchester.edu/eelriverinitiative/index.htm, where visitors can learn more about the $1 million conservation and cleanup initiative of federal, state and local agencies, organizations and individuals.