Jeramey Jannene

Help Clean Milwaukee’s River Banks

Saturday is Milwaukee Riverkeeper's annual cleanup. Last year's removed 110,000 pounds of trash.

By - Apr 20th, 2022 05:08 pm
2019 Menomonee River cleanup near American Family Field. Photo by Jack Fennimore.

2019 Menomonee River cleanup near American Family Field. Photo by Jack Fennimore.

Thousands of volunteers will clean Milwaukee’s riverbanks, parks and trails Saturday, April 23 as part of Milwaukee Riverkeeper‘s annual cleanup.

The annual event is a coordinated effort to remove a year’s worth of litter, illegal dumping and loose trash that becomes particularly problematic in the spring as snow melts and water levels rise. Collected trash runs from plastic bags and bottles to tires and shopping carts.

Cleanup events will be held at more than 80 locations across the Milwaukee River basin. Each cleanup runs from 9 a.m. to noon, rain or shine.

More than 3,200 people are expected to participate in the 27th annual event and more are welcome to join. Last year participants removed 55 tons of trash.

Volunteers can choose to attend any site. The Riverkeeper website provides a full list of sites, with classifications based on the amount of trash.

Targeted corridors include the riverbanks of the Kinnickinnic, Menomonee and Milwaukee rivers as well as the Hank Aaron State Trail.

The nonprofit organization will provide gloves, trash bags and free t-shirts to participants. Masks are optional at the outdoor event. Individuals can participate for the full window or as they are available. All ages and skill levels are welcome.

Individuals will remove trash by padding out into the river at a handful of sites, but almost all of the cleanup takes place on the riverbanks and surrounding areas. The sites that include waterborne cleanup efforts are marked with “bring your own boat” icons on the registration map.

Rock the Green is hosting a post-cleanup, zero-waste party from noon to 3 p.m. at the Harley-Davidson Museum, 400 W. Canal St. The event is free to attend with Third Space Brewing providing one free beer for volunteers.

Both events are timed to coincide with Earth Day, which falls on Friday, April 22 in 2022.

Milwaukee Riverkeeper is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit led by executive director Jennifer Bolger Breceda. The organization’s mission is to protect, improve and advocate for water quality, riparian wildlife habitats and sound land management policies in the Milwaukee area.

The 2022 cleanup comes as a major effort is underway to sufficiently clean up Milwaukee’s waterways so that the federal government removes its “area of concern” designation. That effort, much of which involves cleaning the base of the rivers and harbors, received a boost in February when the state passed legislation that allows the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District to finance a $96 million, 42-acre dredged material management facility.

The “area of concern” designation was first applied to Milwaukee’s waterways in 1987. It is one of five such areas in Wisconsin. There are 43 designated Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes, including 17 in Canada and seven shared by the US and Canada.

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Categories: Environment

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