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Local Editorials

SVM EDITORIAL: Sweep more of the river than just Oregon

Volunteers sort trash that was collected during 2017's Rock River Sweep clean-up event.
Volunteers sort trash that was collected during 2017's Rock River Sweep clean-up event.

Who doesn’t love to play in the mud? What’s better than a day on and at the river? Just how much of an excuse do you need to put a boat in the water, anyway?

Next Saturday, volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life, with a shared love of the Rock and a deep-rooted sense of responsibility for the health and care of the environment, will come together to participate in the annual Rock River Sweep.

Hooray for them. We expect no less from a bunch of tree-huggin’, fish-lovin’ sons and daughters of ol’ Mother Nature. They do it every year.

‘Cept, why should they have all the fun?

(Stage whisper here: OK, you guys, ignore the sarcasm, we really, really, really appreciate your volunteerism, we’re just trying to reverse-psychologize, energize, and in any other way -gize all those couch-huggin’, TV-lovin’, thank-God-someone-else-will-give-up-their-Saturday-to-do-the-right-thing types.)

Here’s something river sweepers keep to themselves – it’s practically a party. In Oregon, organizers bring trash bags, gloves, bug spray, jugs of water (to fill up reusable plastic water bottles, of course!) and snacks, snacks, snacks for their 40 or 50 volunteers, who meet at 7:30 in the a.m. at Kiwanis Park, behind Conover Square.

A more beautiful spot cannot be found in all of Oregon.

Then, until noon, volunteers who bring their own boats, kayaks or canoes troll a 9-mile section of the river, from north of the boat landing on state Route 2 to the Castle Rock State Park boat landing, while others tramp the banks.

The trash is taken back to the park, sorted by other volunteers – many of whom, let’s face it, find that kind of activity soothing – and, in the spirit of the day, what can be recycled, will be.

White Pelican Canoe & Kayak Rental Inc. will even provide a few canoes, along with free shuttle service from Castle Rock boat landing back to the park for those with their own canoes or kayaks.

And they all spend the whole morning on that glorious river. Squishing around in the warm mud. Watching the waterfowl, Tabulating the turtles. Listening to the waves slap the shore. OK, and bobbing for trash, too, but hey, friendships are formed, do-gooding is done. What a fabulous day!

You know what’s really weird, though? There’s no organized River Sweep along the Rock in Dixon, Sterling or Rock Falls. How can that be? Who would miss such a chance?

It’s easy to get involved. Either join the Oregon contingent, or consider organizing a cleanup effort of your own that day.

You could make river sweeping even more fun. Groups could vie with each other to see who can wrangle the most rubbish. Prizes could be given for the oddest item fished from the drink, or the most valuable, or the smelliest.

Find Rock River Sweep on Facebook, go to rockriversweep.org, email commissioner.schuster@gmail.com or call 815-988-3202 to get involved.

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