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Earth Day Volunteers Clean Up Big Sioux River

April 22, 2014, 5:55 PM by Jared Ransom

Earth Day Volunteers Clean Up Big Sioux River

Some Sioux Falls businesses joined together to celebrate Earth Day along the banks of the Big Sioux River.

"It's a lot nicer to see green grass and clean river versus seeing stuff float down and garbage along the banks," volunteer Mike Hartwig said.

From the roaring Falls to Fawick Park, volunteers with Cherapa Place, Sioux Steel and Raven Industries put on their gloves and went to work cleaning up the banks of the Big Sioux for Earth Day.

"It's right here when it floods and it brings a lot of garbage, disposes of it on the shoreline, so that's just one thing we have to keep maintained.  Pick it up and keep things looking neat and tidy," volunteer Troy Diede said.

Neat and tidy are not how these volunteers would describe what they've seen. Anything from dirty rugs and tarps, pop bottles, bike helmets, rubber ducks and even tires could be found among the area's wildlife.

"Grocery bags, lots of Styrofoam, just a lot of stuff that doesn't degrade or break down," Hartwig said.

All of these discoveries offer no shock value to the ones who walk along the river every day.

"Not really. Being a bike trail user, there's always a lot of bags and garbage, but there were a lot of really large items that we saw," volunteer Laura Zumhofe said.

Getting rid of the junk and the mess along the Big Sioux River is something the volunteers wish people would do more than one day a year.

"I'm an avid fisherman, so I believe in keeping your waterways clean so we can have decent fish to catch and eat and have a good time," Hartwig said.

"It just makes you feel good to help out wherever you can, and it's a beautiful day," volunteer John Zumhofe said.

All the cleaning for the sake of beauty and preservation.

"We're custodians of the Earth.  It's up to us to pass it on to the next generation and the way we found it or hopefully in even better shape," Zumhofe said.

Volunteers say they hope that someday they'll be able to walk along the Big Sioux River and not have to pick up any garbage.

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