Volunteers work to clean up Wabash River

By Joseph Slacian

“Every last tire. Every last ton.”

Michael Beauchamp led volunteers for Saturday’s Clean Out the Banks event in that chant before the clean out began.

“This is going to be a great day,” he said. “We’re going to make history today. This is the largest volunteer clean out in Indiana, and probably the largest clean out in the United States and North America.

“The word volunteer is the key here. It’s because of all of you and the hundreds and hundreds of people over the past decade that made this possible.”

Since its inception, volunteers have removed 154 tons of debris and 5,284 tires from the Wabash River.

“That is a whale of an effort, and it’s due to volunteers just like you,” Beauchamp said. “But that’s not the end of it. We’re going to make history today because we’re going to attempt to take out every last tire and every last ton.”

Before the work began, several awards were presented.

Beauchamp received the Ted Falls Memorial Environmental Award from the Izaak Walton League.

The award is the highest award possible from the Indiana Division for a non-member, Benny Ward president of the local Izaak Walton League, said. It honors the recipient for the work they have done for the environment.

Beauchamp was nominated for his efforts in organizing the clean out program.

“I would like to accept this award on behalf of the hundreds and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people who do the work,” he said.

Beauchamp presented the Tall Sycamore of the Wabash award to representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Army Corps makes the program possible.

“We couldn’t have done a lot of things without the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” he said. “They set the river for us so that the flow and the height is right for cleaning out the banks.

“It doesn’t just happen that the river is just right every year. The Corps of Engineers does that.”

He also presented a traveling award – a gnome yard statue found in the river during the first Clean Out the Banks events – to Lagro resident Bobby Cash, who has volunteered with the program since it first began.

Beauchamp called Cash “the king of debris and the king of recycling.”

Cash works at the lower level of Paradise Spring, overseeing efforts to separate the various debris pulled from the river.

Jen Rankin, director of the Wabash County Solid Waste Management District, also thanked the Army Corps representatives for their efforts.

“We couldn’t do any of these last 12 clean outs without them,” she said. “Thank you, very, very much.”

Posted on 2022 Aug 03