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Project Aware cleanup to tackle the Upper Cedar River

CHARLES CITY – Volunteers will have an opportunity this summer to spend their vacations cleaning up, learning about and exploring 60 miles of the upper Cedar River from the Iowa-Minnesota border to Nashua from July 10 to 14.

Project AWARE, which stands for A Watershed Awareness River Expedition, is the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ annual volunteer river cleanup event. In addition to removing trash from the river, participants learn about watersheds, water quality, recycling, and other natural resource topics. This year’s expedition marks Project AWARE’s 15th year.

"This is a great opportunity for people to come together and help keep our rivers clean of debris along with enjoying the various rivers in our great state,” said Linda Tjaden, Floyd County Supervisor. “It also is a great opportunity to showcase the communities along the way and learn about our rich Iowa heritage."

Volunteers participate by paddling down the river in canoes and cleaning up river trash along the way. Opportunities for land-based volunteers are also available. While the expedition lasts five days, volunteers may stay and help for as little or as long as they like. Project AWARE is family-friendly and provides the opportunity to experience a different river each year.

“My first Project AWARE in 2006 hooked me. Camping and paddling with a group of like-minded folks hauling sometimes crazy amounts of trash into our canoes and handing it off to our DNR support team for recycling is huge fun and very satisfying,” said Linda Appelgate, a Des Moines resident and 11-year Project AWARE veteran. “Newcomers and little kids with their families are warmly welcomed and everyone does what they can. I can’t say enough good about DNR’s inspired leadership in making this the best event of the summer for learning about our rivers, making a positive difference, and having fun.”

In addition to river cleanup, Project AWARE also offers a unique blend of educational programs and demonstrations, volunteer camaraderie, camping and other outdoor recreation opportunities that enrich the experience.

“Having Project AWARE on the Cedar River in Mitchell and Floyd counties provides the Upper Cedar River Watershed Management Authority (WMA) an opportunity to showcase best management practices that landowners have implemented to address water quality and quantity issues in the watershed,” said Sherm Lundy, chair of the Upper Cedar River WMA. “We welcome Project AWARE and the volunteers to the area and acknowledge their efforts to enhance the Cedar River, which is such a vital resource to the communities along it.”

In the past 14 years, more than 4,000 AWARE volunteers from across the state have cleaned up 1,083 river miles, removing 377 tons of trash (76 percent of which has been recycled) from rivers all across Iowa.

For more information on this event and to download the registration materials, please visit www.iowadnr.gov/aware.

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