Janesville75.1°

Volunteers step up to coordinate local river cleanup

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ANNA M. LUX
June 18, 2010
— Dave Peterson and Dave Wirth want area residents to focus on the Rock River next month.

The two have stepped forward to coordinate a river cleanup in Janesville and north of the city to Indianford.


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.


“We mulled it over and decided to do our part,” Peterson said.


He grew up in Janesville, lived near the river and has canoed it. He believes the river can help the city’s future.


“We think the river can lead people back to the city, especially people who want to settle here,” he said. “We want to make it more attractive and more of a focal point in the city.”


Peterson and Wirth need help with the three-hour cleanup. Both men are excited about the effort and hope others will catch cleanup fever.


“We would like groups to step forward and claim sections of the river as their own,” Peterson said.


Volunteers will remove trash from the river’s banks and coves where it accumulates.


Wirth lives on the river near the Four Mile Bridge.


“In the spring, we get a lot of debris against my dock,” he said. “There’s a lot of fishing equipment, chairs, bottles and cans. Most of it sits along the riverbank.”


Peterson has been a professional firefighter for 31 years. Wirth is a tool salesman. They share a vision for an improved river.


The local cleanup group is calling itself “Rock’n’ Janesville.”


Its goal the first year is to raise awareness of the effort and of how valuable the Rock River is to Janesville. Peterson said he is planning to have a rock band downtown to celebrate after the cleanup.


The men want to stay involved in what they say will be an annual cleanup of the river in Janesville.


“We plan on being with this for a long time,” Peterson said.


“We plan on joining the efforts of people up and down the river to improve the Rock.”


HOW TO HELP

To get involved in the Rock River cleanup in Janesville and north to Indianford on July 31, call Dave Peterson at (608) 290-8809 or Dave Wirth at (608) 774-0141. They are creating a Facebook page.


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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