Great Miami cleanup helps bigger effort
In the seven years Piqua’s Jeff Lang has been helping organize
cleanups along the Great Miami River, he has seen all kinds of things pulled out of the water. There was, for instance, a
twisted ball of coat hangers numbering in the thousands and a safe (minus the contents) that had been stolen from Sinclair
Hundreds of volunteers have walked
along, or have gone canoeing on, the Great Miami River cleaning up after those who dumped their tires or refrigerators or
who left their trash after fishing. The effort has been known as operation Clean Sweep since 2004 when the Miami Conservancy
District encouraged groups involved in isolated cleanups to come together.
This year the campaign has drawn so many volunteers that “section leaders” have filled all the
spots in the canoes they’ve reserved for the event, and they expect to have enough people to walk the local riverbanks
in their entirety.
As many as 150 canoes have been hauling
trash and as many as 900 volunteers have been grabbing plastic bags out of trees and picking up soda and beer cans.
Last year 20 tons of junk was hauled away.
Like so many
volunteer initiatives, they have a core group that never seems to get tired of the ongoing leg work that goes into
leveraging and multiplying their own passion.
initiative is becoming more, not less, important. For a host of riverfront communities, the Great Miami River is their backyard.
Dayton, Miamisburg, Troy and Hamilton, just to name a few cities, are energetically trying to exploit the river and get businesses
to locate on the river’s edge.
They also want more
kayakers, bicyclists and festival-goers meeting on their riverbanks. If there’s a water heater rusting nearby, that’s
The regional nature of the cleanup was
something of an example for another newer river initiative that’s partly organized, partly organic.
The University of Dayton has for three years now hosted what it has dubbed
the River Summit. Some of the same communities participating in Clean Sweep — from Sidney to Fairfield — are getting
together annually to learn about each other’s riverfront development projects and to brag about what they’ve achieved
since the previous gathering.
The participants have taken
to calling their stretch of the river “Ohio’s Great Corridor,” in recognition that, besides the waterway,
nearly 100 miles of bike paths have been built near the river.
competition among the communities to get things going is friendly because, at the end of the day, the more events, businesses,
restaurants and bars that locate on the Great Miami, the better it is for them all.
While this process of making things happen keeps bubbling, it’s good to know that so many are
making sure that the people who don’t pick up after themselves and who dump in the dark aren’t going to be allowed
to destroy something good.