By Larry Moore
Over 250 volunteers answered the call of the Little Miami River Kleeners (LMRK) to help keep the river clean and scenic. The volunteers spent a Saturday morning divided into groups with each canoeing a different section of the Little Miami River. The sections were divided according to access points at canoe launches and road intersections. They covered a considerable stretch of the river from the Yellow Springs Jacoby Road canoe launch to Waynesville.
The efforts resulted in a large variety of trash and items being removed. Typically just downstream from the road bridges is where most of the paper, cans, bottles and coffee cups were found. Apparently passing motorists think the river is a trash can or perhaps a target to throw these items out of their vehicles.
Other items removed included a picnic table, truck bed liner, plastic lawn furniture and, of course, various shoes apparently lost from canoes over the year. Old tires continue to be a problem, however with fewer removed this year than in previous years. My canoe partner and I accounted for five old tires, a plastic chaise lounge chair, along with miscellaneous metal, paper and plastic items.
The only section that couldn’t be covered is between US35 and south to Indian Ripple Road. Hurricane Ike’s destruction in 2008 left a major log jam in that stretch of the river. The log jam has continued to grow over the years. There are reports that the river may be cutting a new channel around the jam. It is just not possible, due to a combination of factors, to get the heavy equipment access to work in the river to remove a jam of this size.
Former Ohio First Lady, and Greene County resident, Hope Taft is a co-founder of the Little Miami River Kleeners. She comments, “The river is getting cleaner. When we started the event in 2010, we got over two-hundred tires for several years but we only had forty-eight tires this year. We normally remove more than a ton of trash, however the total removed this year was 1400-pounds. I think we are making good progress. We are very thankful that people are learning to take everything off the river that they brought with them.”
Taft continues, “LMRK enjoys tremendous community support from a number of partners. The Greene County Parks and Trails provided canoes along with staff to help coordinate the canoe launch. They also provided the staff and trucks to remove the trash. Also the Bellbrook Sugarcreek Parks, Bellbrook Canoe Rental, Rivers Edge Outfitters, Rivers Unlimited and many others make it all possible. We want to thank our patrons who continue to make your efforts possible. These include James Investment Research, Vectren, Connors Group and USAeroteam who have been with us since the beginning. Our local
outdoor sports store, Cabela’s joined us this year. It really takes total community support to make this effort successful each year.”
Ohio pioneered the river preservation movement in 1968 with the passage of the nation’s first scenic rivers act. This legislation created a state program to protect Ohio’s remaining high quality streams for future generations. The Scenic Rivers Act requires that a citizens’ advisory council, representing local officials, landowners and conservation organizations, be appointed for each designated river. The council provides advice about local river protection and preservation concerns. Scenic rivers are classified according to the outstanding qualities a stream possesses. The Scenic Rivers Act provides three categories for river classification: wild, scenic and recreational. The Little Miami River was first designated as a Scenic River August 20, 1973 with additional sections designated in early 1980.
Performing the sweep of the river each year to remove trash is a wonderful effort. As I canoed and scanned the river bottom and banks for trash there were lots of nature to enjoy. We saw beaver slides along the bank. We also saw where raccoons had found and eaten turtle eggs. I enjoyed the Little Miami River at its finest. However at each road intersection, I knew more trash waited on the downstream side of the bridge. I understand we all have busy daily lives and that not everyone enjoys the out of doors like the other volunteers and I do.
There is just no excuse for lazily tossing trash from a vehicle over the bridge into the river or, for that matter, anywhere else along our roadways. Our lifestyle and society depends on clean water. Ohio, and the United States, is blessed with abundant natural resources throughout our history. However, we know those resources will not last forever. They are being threatened in any number of ways.
We all need to be more aware of the trash we generate and dispose of it properly. Whether immediately along the river or not, we all depend on clean water each day. Each one of us lives downstream from someone. Wouldn’t it be great if a yearly cleanup of the river was no longer needed?
Taft concluded, “The Little Miami River is a wonderful asset to our region. It brings in tourist dollars, provides recreational opportunities and drinking water for southwest Ohio. It has wonderful habitat for plants and wildlife. We need to take care of this very valuable resource. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped with the clean up.” Indeed the Little Miami River is a wonderful natural resource. I encourage everyone to get out to the river and enjoy its beauty. Just please remember to treat it with respect.
For more information about the LMRK visit the website at www.lmriverkleeners.org. See the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for more information on the Scenic Rivers program at www.watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/scenicrivers.
Larry S. Moore is a local resident and a weekly outdoor columnist.