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CEDAR RIVER – The upper stretch of the Cedar River in north-central Iowa is now 28 tons of trash lighter, thanks to the efforts of 469 volunteers.
This July, 469 volunteers took part in the 15th annual Project AWARE, paddling 55 miles of the Cedar River through Mitchell and Floyd counties from the Iowa-Minnesota state line to Howard’s Woods Rec Area near Nashua.
Project AWARE, which stands for A Watershed Awareness River Expedition, is the Iowa DNR’s volunteer river cleanup event which involves hundreds of people who spend anywhere from one to five days exploring Iowa’s rivers and picking up trash.
"Project AWARE was such an awesome experience and we were truly thankful to be part of it,” said Adam Shirley, Mitchell County Conservation Board Director. “It was impressive to watch the volunteers at work and we appreciate all of their hard work to improve the Cedar River."
Scrap metal was the heaviest item removed. Mitchell County Conservation and Floyd County Conservation handled the 15 tons of scrap metal removed during the event. Volunteers also removed 368 tires. This year, 88 percent of the trash pulled from the river was able to be recycled.
A total of 169 volunteers participated all five days of the event, but with some participating single days, there were about 250 volunteers on the water each day, ranging in age from 2 to 77. About 15 percent of this year’s participants at the family-friendly event were under the age of 18. In addition to Iowa, volunteers hailed from 14 other states. Fifty-one of the volunteers were from Mitchell or Floyd counties.
“Project AWARE provided me with the motivation to visit the upper Cedar River and all the quaint towns that surround it. I never thought it possible that the Cedar River could be that beautiful! It’s a gem of a river,” said Jodi Gerot, a third-year volunteer from West Branch.
“I didn't know anything about Mitchell or Floyd counties and really enjoyed the scenery and the towns. I would love to go back to this area to paddle. The river was gorgeous and well-cared for by the locals,” said Rose Danaher, an eight-year volunteer from Amana.
Photos from the event can be found on the Project AWARE website at www.iowadnr.gov/aware.
Event sponsors included:
Platinum Paddle Sponsors: Alliant Energy Foundation · Bridgestone’s Tires4ward Program · Bug Soother · City of Charles City · Firestone Complete Auto Care · Flint Hills Resources · Floyd County Conservation · IIHR - Hydroscience & Engineering at The University of Iowa · Iowa DNR – IOWATER, Rivers Programs · Iowa Flood Center · Iowa Rivers Revival · ITC · Mitchell County Conservation Board · N-Compass · State Hygienic Laboratory at The University of Iowa · Zanfel Laboratories, Inc.
Golden Yoke Sponsors: Ansell Protective Products · Iowa Whitewater Coalition · Rockwell Collins
Silver Stern Sponsors: Cedar Run Canoe & Kayak Rental · DuPont · Hy-Vee, Inc. · Nathan and Jamie Lein · Stine Seed Company · Upper Iowa University
River Steward Sponsors: B4 Brands · Caterpillar Inc. · Cedar Springs Camp & Retreat · Connie Struve and Bill Covington · Environmental Advocates · Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association · Iowa Limestone Producers Association · Mitchell County Farm Bureau · Mitchell Soil and Water Conservation District · Rapids End Outfitters · Senator David Johnson · Snyder & Associates, Inc. · Touch the Earth Outdoor Recreation and Education - University of Iowa · University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist · University of Northern Iowa Outdoor Recreation Zimmerman Buildings Inc.
River Rescue Sponsors: Allison Boehm · Anonymous Nature Lover · Boy Scout Troop 242 · Butler Soil and Water Conservation District · Can Shed LLC · Casey’s General Stores, Inc. · Cedar Rapids Linn County Solid Waste Agency · Cedar Valley Paddlers · Central Iowa Paddlers · Charles City Family YMCA · Charles City Immaculate Conception Parish · Charles City Senior Center · Chickasaw County Conservation · City of Ames A.O.C. Resource Recovery System · CrawDaddy Outdoors · Darrel and Jean Brothersen · Dean and Linda Tjaden · Des Moines Area Community College · Don Wall · Eaton Corporation’s Community Involvement Team, Shenandoah Plant · Environmental Professionals of Iowa Eric Boehm · Floyd County Historical Museum · Floyd County Ikes · Floyd Lions Club · Floyd-Mitchell-Chickasaw Solid Waste Management Authority · Fossil & Prairie Conservation Foundation · Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District · Iowa Geological Survey · ISG · Jendro Sanitation John and Shawnna Larison · Kim Watkins · Linda Appelgate · Mark Bohner · Nashua Fire Department · Nick and Maureen Gaeta · OmniTel Communications · R Campground Inc. · Rick Dietz · Rivers and Streams LLC · Rod, Ronnie, and Randie Brodigan · Skunk River Paddlers · Sqwincher/PMG · St. Ansgar Community Schools · Sunny Brae Golf Course and Country Club · The Dental Practice · Timothy S. Fox · Tony Geerts · University of Iowa Research Park · White Pine Group, Iowa Sierra Club · William & Joan Kauten
Life Jacket Sponsors: Andrew & Maureen Johnson
For more information on this event, visit www.iowadnr.gov/aware.