WRD plans Wabash River clean-up July 28

By The Paper staff

On Saturday, July 28, 2018, the Wabash River Defenders (WRD) will host its annual Clean Out the Banks event.
Participants should gather at Paradise Spring Historic Park, 351 E. Market St., at 7 a.m. for coffee and donuts with instructions starting at 7:30. After the clean-up event, the day winds down with a lunch provided by Knights of Columbus.

Cleanup will occur rain or shine, with the exception of lightning.

River and land “teams” carry out the event’s goal of cleaning our local Wabash River (and tributaries) and its banks. A “team” consists of two to 20 people with a boat(s) and/or truck. When signing up, individuals should declare their “team” members or indicate river or land “team” preference, to which they will be assigned accordingly.

The river “teams” focus on gathering the debris via kayaks, canoes and Jon boats or walking in the water.  The depth of the water is typically from the 6-24 inches, controlled through the release of water at the Huntington Dam and Salamonie Dam by the Army Corp of Engineers. All river participants should be over 13 years of age; however, a parent or guardian must accompany those under the age of 18.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requires all those in a boat have a personal flotation device (PFD, i.e. life jacket). WRD requires those walking in the river to wear a PFD or be able to swim. A “team truck” to transport the gathered waste is helpful but not required. Land workers gather and transport trash in their “team truck” from the banks to Paradise Spring Historic Park. There is no age limit for land team members. Both teams are encouraged to bring sun protection, good shoes that will prevent sharp objects from hurting feet, shovel or trowel, gloves, water or beverage, and snacks. WRD will provide PFDs or canoes/Jon boats on an “as available” basis. Volunteers (no “team” required) are also needed to unload and sort debris at Paradise Spring.

Those who can’t attend July 28 can still contribute. Those who would like to participate prior to the cleanup may do so by helping recruit individuals and teams and attend pre-event meetings. Those wishing to be part of the planning should contact WRD with their name and e-mail contact information via Wabash River Defenders Facebook page.

In 2011, a total of 350 volunteers gave their time and energy for the first Clean Out the Banks event. Since then, with the exception of 2015 when water levels were too high, as many as 400 volunteers have joined together every year. These river-minded volunteers have removed over 126 tons of debris, including almost 5,000 tires from the river.

In addition to tires, volunteers have pulled televisions, computers, bicycles, guns, household furniture, an automobile, farm equipment, and even the front of a school bus from our local river. Seventy-five percent of the total weight of this debris has been recycled through a relationship with the Wabash County Solid Waste District and various other partners. Leaders from an Indiana river commission call the annual event “the largest volunteer river cleanup in Indiana.”

According to perennial volunteer, Rollin McCoart, “This is a terrific event. The river is definitely benefitting from everyone’s efforts. We are making a difference.”

More information and registration are available at, or call Jen Rankin, Wabash County Solid Waste executive director, at 260-563-7649. More information about the organization is also available on the Wabash River Defenders Facebook page.

Posted on 2018 Jun 12