Volunteers from Pierre area businesses, churches and state organizations participated in a Missouri River clean up Wednesday. The 80 participants collected over 2.6 tons of trash.
The Pierre and Fort Pierre area has held a river cleanup annually for the past six years with the exception of the summer of 2011 when the Oahe Dam had record flows due to flooding on the Missouri River.
During this year’s cleanup, volunteers collected more than 1.12 tons of garbage; 1,900 pounds of lumber; 640 pounds of scrap metal and 540 pounds of tires.
Paul Lepisto is a regional conservation coordinator with the Issac-Walton League of America based in Pierre and worked on the cleanup. He says he is not surprised thousands of pounds of trash were plucked from the water.
“Unfortunately in the five events that we’ve done, 2.66 is about average,” Lepisto says. “We had a high in 2010 of three-and-a-half tons that year, but in the five events we’ve done here in Pierre and Fort Pierre, we’ve taken out over 13.1 tons of trash in those five cleanups.”
Lepisto says remains from Independence Day celebrations such as fireworks made up much of the trash volunteers collected. He says some of the items have been in the river for years; he says the scrap metal, lumber and tires accumulated during the 2011 Missouri River flooding when high flows washed docks away.
Lepisto says the cleanup project in the Pierre area happens each year, and organizers are planning more cleanup events along other parts of the Missouri River.