Anyplace that has a third of a million visitors is going to need a little cleaning once in awhile. According to Metropolitan Council park-use statistics, about that many visitors each year use the walking and biking paths along the St. Paul side of the Mississippi River from the Lake Street Bridge to the Ford Dam.

As they have done for the past nine years, picker-uppers from the University of St. Thomas and surrounding neighborhood will join forces to collect trash and debris along that two-mile stretch of the Mississippi.

St. Thomas students, staff and faculty, along with neighborhood groups and individuals, again are being asked to help; volunteers will be needed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 15. Show up with gloves, sturdy shoes, and maybe a rake if you have one, at the monument area at the western end of Summit Avenue.

Look for the tent; it’s the command center where you can get directions, trash bags and some refreshments. All who participate receive a free T-shirt.

The project is coordinated by the university’s student EcoAction Team and physical plant and is part of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Adopt-a-River Program.

At the first river cleanup, held in April 1991, about 200 volunteers collected enough trash to fill 600 20-gallon trash bags. New trash continues to show up, but so do volunteers … as many as 300 at recent cleanups. They clean the boulevard, ravines and gullies, paths that crisscross the steep banks and, depending on water levels, the beach.

A number of parents bring their young children and make it a family outing. They are welcome to help, but everyone should be reminded that parts of the riverbank are steep, slippery and could be dangerous. Close supervision is important.

Coordinating the cleanup this spring is EcoAction member Brian Carlson, a St. Thomas junior majoring in environmental studies. Students, staff and faculty who have questions about the spring cleanup can call him at (651) 698-3407.

Other Earth Week events that need volunteers:

  • Political Action Day, Monday, April 17, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Tree giveaway, Tuesday, April 18, in the afternoon
  • Many other events

Please contact Carlson if you are interested in volunteering.

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