Adopt-a-river program introduced to Cedar

Published 7:55 am Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Cedar River Watershed District has a plan to clear debris from eight different sections of river bank starting north of Austin to the Minnesota-Iowa border.

By utilizing the DNR’s adopt-a-river program, the CRWD hopes that community service groups, various volunteers and families will pitch in to clean the Cedar River in the spring of 2011. The adopt-a-river program would require one day of cleanup in which different groups will cover the designated sections.

The CRWD wants to use the DNR’s program because it is already in place; it just hasn’t been utilized in Mower County. It also uses existing DNR access sites to the water.

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By signing up for the program, volunteers receive a river cleanup kit that includes a how-to guide, gloves, trash bags and feedback on their efforts. The DNR would need its volunteers to participate in the program again in 2012 to complete the river cleanup, mainly to realize and spread word of the improvements they have made.

While it is not known exactly how many volunteers are needed for the entire project, CRWD’s Tim Ruzek said at least five or six people per section would help, preferably more. Some sections of the river are longer routes and may require more people; however, it is difficult to tell how much trash is in some of the rural sections without seeing all of it. Ruzek noted that the river is much longer than one would think.

After conducting a small river cleanup of its own in early October, the CRWD has gained some insight on the best way to go about the project. Ruzek said wearing waders and towing canoes as trash receptacles is the most practical approach because much of the trash is up on the banks and out of reach. Also, it can make preliminary plans to map out items that are large and difficult to remove. CRWD members previously saw large items such as a fridge, construction supplies, fencing and a gargabe disposal on their trial run.

A specific date has not been set for the cleanup as more notice needs to be given to the public. A few issues stand in the way, such as informing land owners that people may be on their property and gaining resources like canoes and tools to remove the trash.

“At the least, people hearing about the need for it will help,” Ruzek said “Hopefully we can overcome some of these obstacles.”

Ruzek thinks larger organizations might be able to come with some of the needed manpower and resources to fuel the project, and Austin’s Community Pride Day would also further the project. Furthermore, he said individuals and families could take plastic bags with them and pick up a few things at any time.

For information on signing up for the Adopt-a-River program, visit and