Photo essay: Milwaukee Riverkeeper Cleanups through the years!
April 19, 2022 | Topics: Events
By Eddee Daniel
Note: This photo essay is a companion piece to a story I wrote for Milwaukee Magazine, which was published in the April 2022 issue and posted online.
This Milwaukee River Cleanup Brings Out 4,000 Volunteers Every Year
After another long Wisconsin winter, who doesn’t yearn to head outdoors to enjoy warmer temperatures, longer days and the emergence of buds and blossoms? Walking along Milwaukee’s rivers, rushing with snowmelt, can be particularly invigorating. And as the snow cover gradually recedes it begins to reveal … tons of trash!
A sad and inevitable truth about urban living is that the detritus of the city accumulates, especially over the winter, making a mess of many of the places we love the best, including our rivers.
Enter Milwaukee Riverkeeper, the advocacy organization that works to improve waterways throughout our area. For more than 25 years, Milwaukee Riverkeeper has organized thousands of volunteers to help with its annual Spring River Cleanup, timed to coincide with Earth Day.
“Our rivers are such an important part of Milwaukee,” says Jennifer Bolger Breceda, the group’s executive director. “Our annual cleanup is a way for the community to spend a morning walking along the river, removing trash and pollution, connecting with neighbors and helping to beautify our community.”
In recent years, more than 4,000 volunteers have picked their way through tall grasses and riverside thickets along all three major local waterways – the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic rivers. Most are on foot, trying to dislodge recalcitrant debris and sometimes wading into the water to untangle shredded bags from briers and tree branches, while some set out in rowboats, canoes or kayaks to retrieve sunken rubbish, mud-filled tires, shopping carts, even rusting bicycles.
To read the rest of the story go to the Mke Magazine website. The photos in the magazine’s version of the story are not mine, but these are. Enjoy!
(This year’s cleanup is taking place on Saturday, April 23. Please join us! Go to Milwaukee Riverkeeper to register. And while you’re at it, check out the Photo Contest being held this year. Your shot is as good as mine–it’s all about being in the right place at the right time–no one knows ahead of time what will be dredged from the deep!)
Addendum: I’ve posted follow up photos of this year’s River Cleanup, which happened as planned on a perfectly gorgeous April 23, on Flickr.
Eddee Daniel is a current board member of Preserve Our Parks and a former board member of Milwaukee Riverkeeper, which is also a partner organization of A Wealth of Nature. Eddee is a former columnist at Milwaukee Magazine, where you can see still find his Urban Wilderness stories.