2015 River Cleanup Recap

2015 has been a great year for National River Cleanup! Because of the hard work of all the cleanup coordinators and volunteers, communities have cleaner rivers, safer drinking water, and more scenic waterways for all to enjoy. Now it’s time to look back over the highlights and get ready for next year.

Hugo Krispyn

When I was in high school and my sister was away at college, we would ask for large desk calendars for Christmas (now that I see this fact in writing, I notice how sad it sounds. We did receive other, less boring gifts, I promise). We would then spend the following year using them to keep track of homework assignments, test dates, and more importantly, our vacations from school. We’d also keep track of fun activities we did, any trips we took, or notable things from our days on our calendars. After each month, instead of ripping the page off and throwing it in the recycling, we’d simply turn it over and tuck it behind the rest of the calendar.

LowellGeorge
In November 2015, volunteers removed trash from the banks of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, FL

By the end of the year, our calendars would be a little bulky but we managed to keep them in one piece most of the time.

After Christmas, when my sister was home from college on her long winter vacation, we would each pull out our calendar, flip to the beginning and each take turns going through our year, month by month. Even though we kept in touch while she was away at school, it was a great way to catch up with each other, share our accomplishments, and remember some of the smaller details that might have been forgotten.

To honor that tradition, I’m going to share the highlights, accomplishments, and memories from the 2015 cleanup season! In the past 12 months of cleanups, organizers across the country have accomplished great things, including:

  • Registering 1,320 cleanup sites
  • Mobilizing 45,399 volunteers
  • Removing 1,971,442 pounds of trash

I was lucky enough to take over the National River Cleanup® program in August of this year and was out at my first American Rivers cleanup on the Merrimack River in Massachusetts within the month. I learned a lot about organizing a cleanup and was energized by the enthusiasm and passion of the volunteers. The excitement stuck with me as we hosted cleanups in some of our priority river basins.

We cleaned up the Ashley River in South Carolina, the Yampa River in Colorado, and Marsh Creek in California. The first half of the year brought volunteers together with American Rivers in Knoxville, Tennessee; Windsor, Virginia; Sumner, Washington; Castroville, California; and Waterbury, Vermont.

I saw volunteers stick out the rain and extreme heat to clean up their waterways and pull tremendous amount of trash out of rivers.

We unearthed countless tires, bottles, and even an ATM and enjoyed getting a closer look at our local rivers. With 2015 coming to a close, I’ve already started filling in my calendar for 2016: The 25th Anniversary of National River Cleanup!

With this milestone, American Rivers plans to expand our reach and hold more cleanup events in our priority river basins! Make sure to mark your calendars with these events and come out to clean up:

  • the Anacostia River in Washington, DC in April
  • the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs, CO in July
  • the Nooksack River in Bellingham, WA in September
  • the Ashley River in Charleston, SC in September
Susan Lee
Volunteers at a local cleanup in November 2015 remove trash from Assunpink Creek in Trenton, NJ

I have had a blast being a part of the National River Cleanup program for the past few months. It has definitely added some bright spots to my planner and I look forward to filling in more in 2016!

Because of the hard work of all the cleanup coordinators and volunteers, communities have cleaner rivers, safer drinking water, and more scenic waterways for all to enjoy. Thank you for all your hard work in 2015!

Leave a comment below telling me about your favorite river cleanup memory from 2015, or what you’re most looking forward to in 2016!

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