It is a shame that only a few dozen residents participated last year in an annual event to help cleanup one or our area's most treasured natural resources.
The annual River Sweep is set for Saturday morning at sites across the region, including Chester City Park, Kennedy Marina, the Steubenville Marina and Newburg Landing in Toronto.
River Sweep is a riverbank cleanup that extends the entire length of the Ohio River and beyond, according to the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, which has organized the event for more than two decades. More than 3,000 miles of shoreline will be combed for trash and debris. It is the largest environmental event of its kind and encompasses six states.
ORSANCO reported last year's event brought out more than 20,000 volunteers, and more than 20,000 tons of trash and debris were collected. Locally, about 140 bags of debris, including roofing materials, rope and large pieces of Fiberglas, were collected from the banks of the Ohio River.
About 34 volunteers locally helped with River Sweep last year, picking up debris and litter. Some of the debris is deposited by the river. Some of it is intentionally left by people who don't care about damaging our natural resources, such as the large amount of roofing shingles found last year.
The Ohio River has come a long way from the days when steel mills filled both banks. The pollution left by those mills endangered the river's quality for decades. The Ohio River now is a major source of pleasure fishing, boating and biking and walking along trails that follow the river downstream.
Volunteers pick up litter along highways numerous times a year but the Ohio River only gets one organized cleanup a year.
Registration will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Steubenville Marina and Newburg Landing in Toronto, with work beginning around 9:30 a.m.
Volunteers also will be registering at 9 a.m. at sites in Hancock County such as Chester City Park, Kennedy Marina, Edgewater Park and Swanee Landing.
Girl Scout Troop 3196, Toronto, and the Lucky Leaf Livestock 4-H will be providing volunteers at the Mingo Junction Marina, as well as employees at ArcelorMittal and the Steubenville Wal-Mart store.
River Sweep only takes a couple hours of volunteering to help beautify our section of the Ohio River. We hope you will join the thousands of others who will collect trash in their area of the river. Take a couple hours Saturday morning to volunteer for this cause.