2017 proved to be another fantastic year for National River Cleanup®, with over 65,600 volunteers removing 3 million pounds of trash from nearly 2,000 cleanup sites. To thank all of our amazing organizers and their volunteers, we are giving formal recognitions to our Cleanup Champions in the following categories:

  • Most river miles cleaned
  • Most pounds of trash collected
  • Most volunteers mobilized
  • Tiny but Mighty
  • NEW: Cleanup to Watch

There are two tiers of recognition so that cleanups of all sizes can get the acknowledgement they deserve – events with ten or more sites are classified as large scale cleanups whereas events with fewer than 10 cleanup sites are classified as mid-sized. There’s also a “Tiny But Mighty” category to shine a light on individual and small group cleanups who pack a big punch.

And this year, we’re introducing a new Cleanup Champion category – “Cleanup to Watch” – to give the stage to cleanup groups who haven’t been around very long but have shown through their multiple events, impressive results, and/or extensive community partnerships that they are here to stay. Help us congratulate all of our Cleanup Champions who helped make National River Cleanup a huge success in 2017!

Most River Miles Cleaned

Large cleanup:

Connecticut River Conservancy’s Source to Sea Cleanup — 249 miles

Mid-sized cleanup:

Pearl Riverkeeper’s Pearl River Basin Cleanup — 490 miles

Most Pounds of Trash Collected

Large cleanup:

ORSANCO‘s Ohio River Sweep — 1 million pounds of trash

Mid-sized cleanup:

Friends of the White River’s Downtown Spring Cleanup – 42,000 pounds of trash

Most Volunteers Mobilized

Large cleanup: 

Charles River Watershed Association‘s 18th Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup — 3,100 volunteers

Mid-sized cleanup: 

Clark Fork Coalition’s Clark Fork River Cleanup — 900 volunteers

  • Charles River Watershed Association Sudipa Ghimire Rijal Herter Park | Nishaila Porter

Tiny but Mighty

Joshua Radhs, President of the group Michigan Clean Up Our River Banks, has worked with a group of fewer than 10 volunteers, and occasionally on his own, to remove 4,800 pounds of trash from 10 different sites in Michigan. While cleaning up the Black River in 2017, Josh says his most common find is tires.

Roseanne Andrade, a member of the Teddy Bear Project, spent her Sundays during the summer and fall of 2017 working with a group of 5 other volunteers to host multiple River Garden Workdays along the Bronx River. The Teddy Bear Project removed 460 pounds of trash from 20 sites.

Cleanup to Watch

Clean Bread and Cheese Creek’s nearly monthly cleanups covered 11 sites, mobilized 630 volunteers, and removed over 36,000 pounds of trash in 2017 alone. Since this group’s creation in 2009, Founder John Long has worked with volunteers to make incredible strides cleaning up this heavily polluted tributary of the Back River and Chesapeake Bay. This group has done an exceptional job at engaging local residents and a variety of businesses to keep these efforts going. According to John, they have river cleanups “down to a science.”

While the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR) has been around for over 20 years, they only just completed their 4th year of cleanups. Nevertheless, they’ve already made quite an impact, engaging 93 volunteers and removing 16,470 pounds of trash from the abandoned mine site upstream from Mahanoy Creek this year. In addition to this impressive haul, EPCAMR Executive Director Robert Hughes pulled from various community resources and drew in a variety of sponsors to cover event costs and materials, truly making this a community-wide event and educating participants on the importance of restoring formerly degraded spaces.

Honorable Mentions

In addition to these top ten groups, we’d like to shine the light on a few more who didn’t secure the top spot, but came very close. These Honorable Mentions are groups who ranked in the top three for the categories above (excluding Cleanup to Watch). Their accomplishments are quite impressive, and they may be jockeying for a top spot next year. Like with all the groups that register with National River Cleanup, American Rivers is tremendously grateful for the work these groups and their volunteers do each year to make our rivers safer, cleaner, and healthier.

Most River Miles Cleaned

Most Pounds of Trash Collected

Most Volunteers Mobilized

Tiny but Mighty

Thank you to all our amazing cleanup organizers and volunteers who made 2017 an amazing year for our waterways!