Volunteers needed for Sept. 7 Rock River Sweep

Staff Report

It’s time to make plans to join in the annual Rock River Sweep Saturday, Sept. 7, with volunteers needed in Rockton, Rockford and Oregon, Ill. Have a great time and perform a valuable community service by picking trash out of the beautiful Rock River and surroundings.

In Rockton, volunteers will gather from 9 a.m. to noon at the gazebo at Settlers Park off Blackhawk Boulevard. Refreshments and door prizes will be included around noon. Volunteers should wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and bring plastic shopping bags to hold recyclable cans, if possible. Volunteers will be needed on foot and in boats, kayaks and canoes. Last year’s volunteers ranged from 4 to older than 70. Organizers of the event will provide garbage bags, gloves, water, snacks and insect repellent. Question? Contact Loren Floto at (815) 624-7622 or flotowood@gmail.com for more about the Rockton event.

In Machesney Park, Loves Park, and Rockford, registration will be at 9:30 a.m. and meet at Tad’s on the Rock, 10 E. Riverside Blvd Loves Park., sponsored by The Rock River Times, Rock River Enterprises and the Rockford Homeowners Association. Put in either at Rockford Marina, Martin Park, Sportcore I. We will clean the stretch from Fordham Dam up to the Roscoe Shallows and leave trash at Sportscore I and Martin Park. More announcements may be made for trash drop-off ports. Plan to be off the river no later than 3 p.m., and meet at Tad’s on the Rock, 10 E. Riverside Blvd Loves Park. Questions? Call Frank Schier at 815-964-9767, or e-mail frank.schier@rockrivertimes.com to confirm your participation.

In south Rockford, from the Fordham Dam to Hinchcliff Forest Preserve at the mouth of the Kishwaukee River, the Prairie State Canoeists, The Illinois Paddling Council, The Rock River Times are co-sponsoring the clean up of the south Rockford reach of the Rock. Registration at 9:30 a.m. at Blackhawk Park in Rockford, where cleanup assignments will be made. Car shuttle at 10 a.m. Put in either at Blackhawk Park or at South Park behind La Famiglia. Reach: We will clean the stretch from Fordham Dam down to the end of Blackhawk Island for sure with the goal being to reach the mouth of the Kishwaukee. Trash bins will be placed at Blackhawk Park, and at the former Ace of Diamonds property on the southwest end of Blackhawk Island Plan to be off the river no later than 3 p.m. Questions? Call Tom Lindblade at 630-207-9500 or e-mail lindbladet@sbcglobal, to confirm your participation.

For all Machesney Park, Loves Park, and Rockford and south Rockford participants, meet at 4 p.m., at Tad’s on the Rock, 10 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, for cool prizes to be awarded for the weirdest garbage item, the most garbage picked up, and the biggest water garbage team. It will be fun! Rockton, Oregon, and Byron participants are invited, too!

In Byron, as assisted by the Byron Forest Preserve in past years, this is the first time a clean-up has been attempted for the section from the mouth of the Kishwaukee to Byron. Sponsors and more information will be announced next week. However, a trash bin will be located at the residence of Herbert and Shirley Wuerfel, 1167 N. Illinois Route 2. Registration at 9:30 a.m., and another trash bin will be located at the Byron Boat Ramp, just north of Byron on Illinois Route 2. Questions? Call Frank Schier at 815-964-9767, or e-mail frank.schier@rockrivertimes.com to confirm your participation.

In Oregon, the clean-up will take place from Lowden State Park to Castle Rock State Park. The Oregon-area clean-up will be from 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Sept. 7. Check-in will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the intersection of North Street and Franklin Street (Kiwanis Park) behind Conover Square. Cleanup begins at 8 a.m. With help from the Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department, the Oregon Park District, the Ogle County Sheriff’s Department and American Rivers, the Oregon Area Rock River Sweep will supply a limited number of gloves, trash bags, bug spray and T-shirts. Water and snacks will be available as well.

All participants are encouraged to wear long sleeves, long pants, and old shoes, and to bring a reusable water bottle to the event, which can be refilled to reduce waste. Boaters, river land owners, Scout groups and other service organizations are needed to help pick up trash, as well as sort the waste and recyclables. Additionally, student organizations can earn community service hours. This year, event planners are encouraging more motor boat, canoe and kayak owners to participate because they have better access to areas of the river that cannot be reached from the shoreline. Last year, more than 40 volunteers participated in the Oregon Area Sweep and collected around half a ton of waste, which was sorted and recycled or disposed of properly. Questions? Contact Steve Rypkema, Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department, at (815) 732-4020 or srypkema@oglecounty.org.

The Rock River is an approximately 320-mile-long tributary of the Mississippi. It flows through Wisconsin and into northern Illinois before joining the Mississippi in Rock Island, Ill. In addition to keeping the river clean, this event will also help spread awareness of how important a healthy Rock River is to local communities.

Mark Nehrkorn, section coordinator for the Oregon area, noted: “With the flooding that took place earlier this summer on the Rock River, there will be a lot of trash that was left when the water receded. It is important that we remove as much debris as possible.”

Nehrkorn is calling on as many area boaters as possible to help with that task.

The Rock River is such a beautiful asset that makes Ogle County and the Oregon area unique,” Nehrkorn added. “We need to do what we can to protect and preserve it. The Rock River Sweep is a perfect opportunity to bring people together to do just that.”

The Rock River Sweep was founded by Oregon’s Frank Masterman.

From the Aug. 28-Sept. 3, 2013, issue

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