SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — The spring snowmelt has revealed all the trash and debris that’s accumulated along the banks of the Big Sioux River in Sioux Falls over the long winter. On Saturday, hundreds of volunteers will be visiting city parks to pick up the mess as part of the Big Sioux River Greenway Cleanup.
People who use the bike path have a great deal of civic pride in the curb appeal of their city parks. That’s why they’re alarmed whenever they encounter trash along the way.
“It’s frustrating. If everybody would just take care of their own garbage and everybody pitch in, it wouldn’t be as cluttered or bad as it is,” Richard Allen of Sioux Falls said.
The vegetation along the river serves as a natural backstop to catch a lot of the trash and debris that’s blown about by the strong winds.
“We’re in South Dakota. It’s windy. It blows around a lot if you don’t put it in a receptacle,” Allen said.
The volunteers taking part in Saturday’s cleanup should have no trouble finding trash to pick up. In just a matter of a few minutes, we found a liquor bottle, a sports drink bottle, a bag of chips, packing foam and lots and lots of plastic.
“Over the years, we’ve found some bigger things. There’s been a porta-potty lodged in a bank of the river before after a flooding event. We’ve also found a lot of tires over the years and some significant metal pieces and scraps metal that has washed ashore during flooding as well,” City of Sioux Falls Sustainability Coordinator Holly Meier said.
Meier says no one park has accumulated more trash than any of the others. Instead, the debris is spread out along the entire stretch of the river, which speaks to the size and scope of the problem and the community’s commitment to clean it up.
“If there wasn’t the regular cleanup, it would spoil the beauty of our park system,” Allen said.
Meier says more than 400 people have already signed-up to take part in Saturday’s cleanup which goes from 10 a.m. to noon.
Be sure to dress warm if you’re planning on taking part.