It’s certainly no secret that millions of tons of trash contaminate American rivers every year, compromising our drinking water and valuable habitat for wildlife. By recruiting volunteers for thousands of cleanups around the country, the American Rivers organization has helped remove over 25 million pounds of litter.
Several local groups in Michigan’s Great Southwest thought it was time to tackle the litter that clutters the areas around Ox Creek. As a result, the Two Rivers Coalition, Interfaith Action – Great Waters Initiative, Southwest Michigan Planning Commission and the Benton Harbor Sunrise and St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Clubs organized a cleanup of Ox Creek.
There were 29 volunteers that turned out on a recent Saturday morning to help clean up the Ox Creek watershed as a part of the National River Cleanup project, a sponsored event with American Rivers.
American Rivers’ National River Cleanup is a series of nationwide community-based river and stream cleanups. This popular annual event raises public awareness about the need for healthy rivers and is great opportunity for civic engagement. The Ox Creek Cleanup was held in conjunction with hundreds of cleanups across the country with tens of thousands of volunteers taking part to remove trash from local waterways. You can learn more about National River Cleanup online at www.AmericanRivers.org/Cleanup.
The health of creeks and rivers matter— healthy creeks and rivers mean a healthy community. Local waterways such as Ox Creek provide recreational and educational opportunities and habitats for fish and wildlife. The groups are committed to improving Ox Creek so that future generations may be able to enjoy its community presence as well.
Marcy Hamilton, Senior Planner with Southwest Michigan Planning Commission and a member of the Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary says, “It was great to see the participation and enthusiasm around restoring the health of Ox Creek.”
Sid Mohn, Convener of Interfaith Action of SW Michigan told the volunteers, “Water is holy in our lives. It’s the majority component of our being and it is the majority surface of our planet. It is used for our sustenance, our birthing, our dying, our rituals. We need to protect and preserve that which is holy.”
Meanwhile, Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers says, “Creeks and rivers connect us to each other, to nature, and to future generations. It is wonderful to see so many people in Benton Harbor and across the country taking action to protect and restore their waterways,” and adds, “We applaud the work of volunteers for the work they do on behalf of the creek and the community.”
The 29 volunteers met at Hall Park in downtown Benton Harbor, where they were split up into 5 groups. One group went out by Meijer and cleaned up a ditch behind the store that drains to Ox Creek. One group went to where the creek crosses Empire and Britain Roads. Another group worked in Hall Park, as Ox Creek flows by that popular city park and then 2 groups walked along Ox Creek from the park to North Shore Drive. The volunteers picked up more than 70 bags of trash, 40 bags of recycling and 6 tires.
Organizers issued a special thanks to Two Rivers Coalition for purchasing supplies for the volunteers, to Meijer for use of their dumpsters for trash disposal, Abonmarche for loaning safety vests and for taking the recycling, and We-Cycle Industrial Sanitation for providing trash containers and for trash disposal.
You can learn more about Ox Creek online at the link below as well as at www.Facebook.com/SustainOxCreek. Here’s the link:
You can also learn more about the event sponsors/organizers:
- Two Rivers Coalition at www.TwoRiversCoalition.org
- Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary at https://www.bhsunriserotary.org/
- St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary at http://www.sjbhrotary.org
- Southwest Michigan Planning Commission at www.swmpc.org
- Interfaith Action Great Waters Initiative – https://swmichinterfaith.org/great-waters