The Wabash River Defenders have announced that this year’s river initiative, the 62 Ton RiverFest, will revolve around celebrating the success of the past three river cleanup campaigns and the hundreds of volunteers who dedicated their time and resources to protecting our natural waterway.
On Saturday, July 26 the public is invited to participate in a group/family float along the Wabash River. It will be launching from Lagro from 9—10 a.m. and getting off of the river at the Carroll St. access point in Wabash.
The Wabash River Defenders (WRD) and the Knights of Columbus will host a celebratory lunch and concert at Paradise Spring Historical Park beginning at noon. This completely free event will include all-you-can-eat Wabash River Silver Tail and Riverbank Tatters along with a live musical performance by Small Town.
“This entire county has worked tirelessly over the last three years removing 62 tons of debris and pollutants from the water and the banks of the entire length of the Wabash River,” said Michael Beauchamp, founder of the Wabash River Defenders. “That is just over 19 miles from Miami to Huntington counties.”
In 2011, more than 400 volunteers gathered for the first organized “clean out the banks” initiative, making Wabash County the largest river clean-up project in the State of Indiana. Wabash County United Fund (UF) serves as the fiscal agent for the program. “United Fund encourages the investment of community spirit,” said Steve Johnson, executive director for United Fund. “Myself and the UF Board of Directors sees this community beautification project as a way to publicly serve and strengthen the entire county.”
In addition to removing 62 tons of debris, the WRD in partnership with Wabash County Solid Waste Management District have erected 10 dumping regulation signs at heavily abused sites along the Wabash River.
Additionally, Wabash County Solid Waste Management District will accept old tires from Wabash County residents for free at their facility as a way to discourage using the river as a trash can.
“Each year volunteers pull out more than 500 tires from the river during the cleanup,” said Jen Rankin, executive director for Wabash County Solid Waste Management District. “We recognized the need to remove the barrier of cost and help reduce the tossing of tires into all waterways.”
Twenty wood duck boxes and 20 birdhouses, built by Heartland Career Center with materials paid for by a Wabash County REMC Operation Round-Up grant, have been installed along the Wabash River.
“We have worked tremendously hard at defending our river,” said Beauchamp. “Now it is time to celebrate with a little fun and a lot of fellowship.”