Help clean the river Saturday

All students, staff, faculty and neighbors are welcome to help with what has become an annual St. Thomas tradition: the Mississippi River Cleanup.

The university’s Green Team is sponsoring the event as part of Earth Week activities. If you want to help, stop by between 9 a.m. and noon Saturday, April 26, at the monument at the intersection of Summit Avenue and Mississippi River Boulevard.

The Green Team will supply gloves and trash bags. As they have done since 1991, volunteers will collect debris along the river banks.

“The Mississippi River is not only a blue line on the map,” noted Michelle Wilwerding, Green Team’s vice president. “It’s a refuge, a source of pride, and a beautiful escape. But without our help to keep it clean, the river would cease to exist as we know it.”

In 1927, she said, the river was declared a public health hazard by the state Board of Health. Community organizations, school groups and neighbors have since teamed to clean and protect the river’s banks.

With thousands of visitors walking, hiking and biking the river’s east bank annually, the problem persists and waste accumulates. “But each year, the force to clean it grows stronger. The wealth and diversity of species lining the river’s banks and living in its waters depend on us.”

If you have questions about the river cleanup, call Wilwerding at (651) 497-2565.