Nearly two tons of litter and trash were removed from the Missouri river on Wednesday, July 10, during the annual Missouri River – Lake Sharpe Cleanup.

Working mostly between 5 to 8 p.m., crews of volunteers were based out of the Downs Marina in Griffin Park in Pierre. There were 11 boats and 10 land-based crews out last night.

Almost 100 volunteers, working from just above Oahe Dam to Farm Island, collected 1.88 tons of materials. This included 2,180 pounds of litter and trash, 840 pounds of lumber, 540 pounds of scrap metal, and more than 200 pounds of tires. Last night’s total was 1,000 pounds more than last year. This year’s high runoff had brought many items into the river.

Lepisto and his crew of coordinators collected registration forms of themselves and of other volunteers. After everyone worked at collecting trash, weight totals were recorded when the roll-off collection containers were run across the scale at the solid waste facility. Even before they got to the scales, “by looking at what was collected, I think we have more weight than we got last year,” guessed Lepisto.

The 10th cleanup in the last 11 years has resulted in nearly 21 tons of trash being removed from areas along the water.

“The cleanup makes the river healthier for fish and wildlife, and a more pleasing place for people to recreate,” said Paul Lepisto, with the Izaak Walton League of America, the chief organizer for the annual project.

“The cleanup is a collaborative effort of the Pierre Chapter of the Izaak Walton League; South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks; the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; the Army Corps of Engineers; the cities of Pierre and Fort Pierre; the South Dakota Department of Corrections; and the Pierre Young Professionals.” he said. “Many other local businesses and organizations also contribute to the effort.”

The organizers thank the many volunteers who worked hard again this year and the people and organizations who help make the effort possible.

Planning for next year’s Missouri River – Lake Sharpe Cleanup is already underway, said Lepisto.

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