Guest Column: Rock River Sweep a success in Rockton

Tom Lindblade paddles a few items found in the river near Rockford’s Blackhawk Park. (Photo by Frank Schier)

By Loren Floto
Rockton Friends of the Rock and Rock River Sweep Rockton organizer

First of all, a great big thank-you to everyone who came out yesterday (Saturday, Sept. 8) for a fun day cleaning the river! We had perfect weather; there was a slight problem with wind blowing away everything inside the gazebo … but I’m nitpicking! It was great, and everyone had a fun time.

We had 49 volunteers participating, another new record, up from 42 last year and 11 for our first effort in 2010. We removed a huge collection of trash from the river. At this point, I’m estimating more than 2,700 pounds, pending the actual weight of a truckload of scrap iron, which I plan to sell.

In addition, there were 18 tires (which Jack’s Tire has graciously offered to recycle for us free of charge), 60 pounds of recyclable plastic/aluminum/paper, and the rest of the weight consisted of general plastic/Styrofoam trash, treated wood and miscellaneous stuff too muddy or degraded to recycle.

Rockton Friends of the Rock and Rock River Sweep Rockton organizer Loren Floto poses with one of the more unusual items his crew found in the Rock River near Rockton, a classic real estate broker sign for Lisa Johnson. Rockton Village Board Member Tricia Davey was working on pulling an old boiler out of the river when this picture was taken. (Photo by Frank Schier)

Some interesting items were found, including a cash drawer from a store, a Realtor’s yard sign, a “No Trespassing” sign, an iron cross, three fishing rods, a pair of Keen shoes (cleaned and claimed by a volunteer family), River Rat tube, Super Dish network antenna, two blue plastic barrels, rusted culvert, rebar, steel ramp, oil drums, water pipes, fence post, angle iron, etc.

There appeared to be less trash this year. Some of us theorized that our cleanup effort is having an effect, while others thought that less stuff got washed down from upstream because of the drought.

Some of the river life we observed included green heron, kingfisher, crayfish, and turtle nests dug up with only the eggshells remaining. Our 5-year-old volunteer decided he would eat a tiny wild mushroom he found, with no ill effects.

A little after noon, we shared pizzas, watermelon and snacks and door prizes at the gazebo. I was interviewed on camera by Channel 23 and got a few seconds of air time on the 6 p.m. news. Also, Susan Moran’s photos of our volunteers and their junk should appear in the Northern Weekly Sept. 19, she said.

Again, thank you, and I look forward to working with you again in 2013.

Rockton Friends of the Rock’s Loren Floto was the organizer of the Rockton, Ill., portion of the Rock River Sweep.

From the Sept. 12-18, 2012, issue

Loren Floto and his daughter, Aimee Floto, pose with the pickup truck load of recyclable metal their group hauled out of the Rock River as it passes through Rockton. Their volunteers keep increasing in number every year. His facebook page says he was a “farm boy, became bilingual in the ’60s, a teacher in the ’70s, environmental activist and fair trade advocate now.” We all thank him for all he does so well. (Photo by Frank Schier)

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