2014 River Cleanup Organizer’s Handbook Release!


Frank Masterman contemplating the issues impacting the Rock River in Illinois | Frank Masterman

Frank Masterman contemplating the issues impacting the Rock River in Illinois | Frank Masterman

National River Cleanup® is happy to release the 2014 Organizer’s Handbook. The handbook is a provides you with a step-by-step process for planning and keeping track of your river cleanup which makes it easy if this is your first cleanup and provides helpful tips for even seasoned cleanup veterans. I asked Frank Masterman, Founder of RockRiverSweep.org and one of our volunteer river cleanup organizers, to share his story with the Organizer Handbook.

“So you want to clean up a river and don’t know where to begin? That was me some years back.

I’ve been playing in, fishing in, water skiing on, and just plain enjoying rivers for nearly sixty years. Other than stepping on the occasional broken bottle buried in the river bottom, and of course removing the offending glass shard, I never really thought much about river cleanup in my life. That is until the late seventies when I realized that the brush-piles I was fishing were more like trash-piles at times. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to clean up my favorite fishing hangout all by myself so I began to nose around to see if anyone would be interested in getting a cleanup going on our local river.

After many conversations about this with various folks, all I had for my efforts was a bunch of comments that went something like this: “Great idea let me know if you get something together”. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

In 2009, that all changed. The year before, I had requested a copy of the National River Cleanup Organizer’s Handbook, and had been reading through it, wondering how to put the information to work. Springtime had rolled around, and along with it came a newly formed community improvement organization in our little city. The public was invited to attend their meetings and provide input. At one of the early meetings, the subject of how much trash was in our river came up and was lightly brushed over; I made note of that.

At the next meeting I was prepared. When one of the committee members said that someone should do something about all the trash in the river, I was on that bait like a Bass on a spinner. As I arose to my feet, with the Organizer’s Handbook in my hand, I confidently held it over my head and proposed that we, yes – we, with the guidance provided in this handbook, could successfully organize and accomplish our first ever river cleanup in our community. Much to my surprise, the idea was well accepted.

Long story short – Our river cleanup was a success and by the end of the year, plans were underway for an annual one-day river sweep event covering the entire 285 miles of the Rock River in Wisconsin and Illinois. The community improvement organization has since folded, but the river cleanup effort lives on.

The organizer’s handbook proved to be not only an invaluable resource to inspire people, but also a worthy organizational tool to effectively accomplish our task. Without that tool in my hand, I never would have had the courage to propose such a project, or the knowledge to carry it out. Thanks to American Rivers, I had both.”

- Frank Masterman

Download the 2014 Organizer’s Handbook today and register a river cleanup with National River Cleanup!