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Watershed Clean-Up Reduces River Pollution

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June 23, 2010 by wcobserver

Staff Report

West Fork-A drier White River exposed trash more easily, but slowed the distance volunteers could travel along the river during the fifth annual West Fork Watershed clean-up last Saturday.

About  80 volunteers turned out to work along sites from Tilly Willy Bridge in  Fayetteville to the Winslow Ball Park, about 22 stream miles. Much of this year’s clean-up could not be done in canoes and kayaks because the river’s water level was too low.

“We have seven sites where folks are doing clean-up.  Collecting trash and recycling what we can,” said Nicole Hardiman, the interim executive director for Beaver Lake Partnership who was checking in volunteers Saturday morning in Riverside Park in West Fork.

Hardiiman says the day is about “getting to know the river.”

Isaiah Akerman said he found  “a lot of trash and even a sock”.  Isaiah had come to the clean-up with his dad, Michael, who was there on behalf of Washington County Search & Rescue.  Volunteers also pulled a sofa, batteries, paint cans, railroad ties, hundreds of plastic bottles and a lot of tires from the river during the clean-up.

Frances Hime, who organizes the annual event, said many of these items leak harmful substances into the river —  acid from batteries, arsenic from railroad ties, lead from tires and water hoses.

Hardiman said many groups also came to volunteer including the Greenland Stream Team, West Fork Star Club, the West Fork Boy Scouts.

Tanner Nock and Michael Kamilos said they were part of a group of six from the Church of Latter Day Saints in Fayetteville.  “We’re here for a service project and to help clean up the West Fork White River,” said Nock, who just completed the eighth grade.

At 11 am, volunteers were treated to a free concert by 3 Penny Acre and a barbecue lunch, courtesy of Whole Hog Barbecue in Fayetteville and Tyson Foods.

Volunteers also went home with a myriad of door prizes that included everything from custom-made fishing lures from Mcllelan’s Fly Shop to tee shirts to gift certificates from the Greenhouse Grille and Pesto Café.  Matt Pledger, a fifth grade science teacher in West Fork,  and his wife Brandy, also a science teacher in West Fork, are credited with rounding up two tables of door prizes.

There were also about a dozen educational booths from various non-profit organizations that included Watershed Conservation Resource Center, UA Cooperative Extension Service, Audubon Arkansas, and Beaver Water District.

The annual clean-up event is sponsored by the West Fork Watershed Alliance.

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