Have fun cleaning our Rock River

Staff Report

It’s time to join in the annual Rock River Sweep Saturday, Sept. 6, with volunteers needed in Rockton, Roscoe, Machesney Park, Loves Park, Rockford, Byron and Oregon, Illinois. Have a great time and perform a valuable community service by cleaning up trash from the beautiful Rock River and its shore.

Wear a goofy hat and clothes that can get sweaty and wet; bring sunscreen and gloves; and be sure to look in the garage and basement for garbage grabbers and stabbers, hoes and fish landing nets.

Walk the shores and bike path; bring your boat, canoe, kayak, and, yes, there will be hovercraft helping, too! This will be a fun day.

In Rockton

Volunteers will gather from 9 a.m. to noon at the picnic shelter 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. Questions? 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 a.m., at Tad’s on the Rock, 10 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park. The clean up on this section of the river is sponsored by The Rock River Times, Rock River Trail, Tad’s on the Rock, Rock River Enterprises, Rockford Homeowners Association and Memorial Hall. We are really excited to have the Ski Broncs participating this year!

Put in either at Rockford Marina, Martin Park, Sportscore 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, at 3:30 p.m. for awards and fun.

Award winners for the weirdest item found; most garbage, craziest cleanup costume, biggest crew, and the dirty bird volunteer will receive prizes from the Rockford Park District, JR Kortman Center for Design, District, Prairie Street Brewhouse, Kryptonite, Tad’s on the Rock, The Rock River Times, and some more surprise prizes! Volunteers from all sections of the river are welcome. Yes, there will be hovercraft, too!

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, Universal Hovercraft, the Prairie State Canoeists, The Illinois Paddling Council, and The Rock River Times are co-sponsoring the cleanup 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 Stan Popelar, and his son, Ben 815-793-6442 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 cleanup has been attempted for the section from the mouth of the Kishwaukee through Byron to Oregon. Sponsors are Moring Disposal, Rock Hollow Hunt Club, Blackhawk Area Council of Boy Scouts, special kayakers and The Rock River Times. However, a trash bin will be located at the residence of Herbert and Shirley Wuerfel, 11647 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 cleanup will take place from Lowden State Park to Castle Rock State Park. The Oregon-area cleanup will be from 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Sept. 6. Check-in will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the intersection of First and Franklin streets (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.

Rypkema said, “RockRiverSweep.org is a grass roots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving the health and ecosystem of the Rock River and its tributaries in Wisconsin and Illinois by partnering the communities along its banks into a unified, volunteer effort of river revitalization and annual clean-ups. The group is hoping to have more sections of the river cleaned up this year to continue to improve the quality of this beautiful river.

The Rock River is an approximately 320-mile-long tributary of the Mississippi, and the Rock River Trail is 10th of the 14 National Water Trails. It flows through Wisconsin and into northern Illinois before joining the Mississippi in Rock Island, Illinois. 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. The Rock River Sweep was founded by Oregon’s Frank Masterman.

From the Sept. 3-9, 2014, issue

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