Volunteers will have an opportunity this summer to spend their vacations cleaning up, learning about and exploring 91 miles of the Big Sioux River between Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Westfield, Iowa, from July 12 to 19.
Project AWARE, which stands for A Watershed Awareness River Expedition, is the DNR’s annual volunteer river cleanup event. In addition to muscling trash out of the river, participants learn about watersheds, water quality, recycling and other natural resource topics. This year’s expedition marks AWARE’s twelfth year. This year’s event is unique in that the Iowa DNR and South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks will team up to focus efforts on the Big Sioux River, which borders both states.
“Now, after a decade, Project AWARE has become the quintessential event in Iowa that focuses on the importance of rivers and water quality to our state,” said Iowa DNR Director Chuck Gipp.
“The best thing about Project AWARE is that it allows Iowa citizens who care about the environment to actually become involved in helping the environment. That’s a big difference. People who are actively involved in not only helping clean up our rivers but understanding the importance of water quality, become much more effective and avid advocates for protecting our natural resources,” said Gipp.
Volunteers can officially join the river cleanup by paddling the river or by assisting with land-based recycling initiatives, but there are opportunities for others to experience Project AWARE as well. “Infotainment” programs, for example, are held each evening and are open to the public.
Registration is not required for the general public to attend evening programs, but it is required for those who wish to volunteer for the river cleanup itself. To avoid a late registration fee, volunteers are asked to have their registration forms postmarked by Friday, June 20. Tent camping is free for volunteers and a limited number of canoes are available for those who need them.
Additional information can be found on the Project AWARE website – www.iowaprojectaware.com or you may contact Lynette Seigley at 515-310-0376 or by email at Lynette.Seigley@dnr.iowa.gov.