Janesville62.4°

First-ever Rock River cleanup set for Saturday

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ANNA M. LUX
July 28, 2010

Dave Peterson and Dave Wirth are plunging ahead with the first-ever Rock River cleanup Saturday, in spite of minor flooding.


The two are coordinating the three-hour effort in Janesville and north of the city to Indianford. Peterson is leading the sweep in Janesville, where he says cleanup of garbage in the river will take place from shore because of high water.


Several groups are diving in to help.


The Rock Aqua Jays will clean up debris in Traxler Park, the Friends of Riverside will clean up Riverside Park, and a third group will scour the area from the Jackson Street Bridge to the Center Avenue Bridge in Monterey Park.


Peterson estimates up to 60 people will be involved in the local cleanup group, which calls itself Rock’n’Janesville.


Wirth is leading the effort north of the city and plans to work from the water. He lives on the river and has seen pop cans, pallets and pill boxes accumulate around his pier in recent days.


“I imagine there are a lot of things floating around out there,” he said. “This will be a first step in cleaning up the river.”


The men will brief volunteers before they begin work, using cleanup guidelines from American Rivers. American Rivers is a conservation group dedicated to protecting and restoring American rivers. It has donated garbage bags for the effort. The city of Janesville is donating equipment, including shovels and rakes, and is waiving the dumping fee at the landfill. In addition, Stateline Recycling is picking up the trash free.


Peterson has been a professional firefighter for 31 years. Wirth is a tool salesman. Their goal the first year is to raise awareness of the cleanup effort and of how valuable the Rock River is to Janesville.


“We plan to keep this effort going,” Peterson said. “We have a lot of synergy growing here. This will benefit Janesville. Our main goal is to make the river a focal point in the city again.”


Earlier this spring, Frank Masterman of Oregon, Ill., invited communities up and down the 285-mile stretch of river in Wisconsin and Illinois to join him in the first ever Great Rock River Sweep.


Masterman is hoping for volunteers from 27 river communities to clean up trash along and in the river on Saturday, July 31.


HOW TO HELP

Volunteers who want to clean garbage from the Rock River in Janesville should meet at 8 a.m. Saturday at the downtown Rock River Parking Plaza behind the Olde Towne Mall. Those who want to help the cleanup effort north of Janesville should meet at 8 a.m. at Dave Wirth’s house, 3725 N. Spring Hill Drive in Juniper Hills. For more information on the cleanup, call Dave Peterson at (608) 290-8809 or Wirth at (608) 774-0141.


For information about the larger cleanup effort on the Rock River in Wisconsin and Illinois, visit rockriversweep.org. Frank Masterman of Oregon, Ill., is organizing a nonprofit group to preserve the health and ecosystem of the river and its tributaries. Called RockRiverSweep.org, the grassroots organization is helping volunteers all along the river with the cleanup.

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