June 29, 2018 --
It’s not every day that hundreds of strangers from across the country converge on one stretch of river with a simple, yet shared, goal of picking up garbage. That, however, is what will happen every day from July 8-13, when more than 350 volunteers will give their time to clean up, learn about and explore 63 miles of the Maquoketa River between Manchester and Canton in Delaware, Jones and Jackson counties.
Iowa Project AWARE (A Watershed Awareness River Expedition) is the state’s largest volunteer river cleanup event. In addition to muscling trash out of the river, participants have the opportunity to learn about watersheds, geology, archaeology, recycling and other natural resource topics. This year’s expedition not only provides an opportunity for Maquoketa River residents to showcase their communities, but it also offers an opportunity for residents and visitors to connect with the river and enrich their sense of place.
“Iowa Project AWARE is an event that demonstrates the public’s drive to maintain and improve Iowa’s river systems,” said Brad Mormann, Jones County Conservation director. “Jones County is honored to have this organization mobilize its tremendous volunteer following to further enhance the health of the Maquoketa River.”
A team of State Hygienic Laboratory limnologists have worked as part of the AWARE team for many years. SHL is a sponsor for the annual event.
“The City of Manchester is very excited and honored to have Iowa Project AWARE in our community and on our river,” said Doug Foley, director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Manchester.
“With the addition of the Whitewater Park, the focus on the river and water quality has become increasingly important as we continue to promote water recreation. The Maquoketa River is the biggest natural resource in our community, and having Iowa Project AWARE in our community is a great way for us to partner with an outstanding group of volunteers and focus on making Iowa a better place to live, work and play.”
Volunteers may officially join the river cleanup by paddling the river or by assisting with land-based recycling initiatives, but there are opportunities for others to experience Project AWARE as well. “Infotainment” programs, for example, are held each evening and are open to the public. These programs will highlight local natural resources, history and archaeology that make this area unique. A much-anticipated camping location is the Delaware County Historical Society Museum Complex in Hopkinton, which will include tours of the Lenox College Campus and surrounding buildings.
Registration is not required for the general public to attend evening programs, but it is required for those who wish to volunteer for the river cleanup itself. Tent camping is included with registration, and a limited number of canoes are available.