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Iowa & southern Minnesota crews clean up Iowa River

Conservation Corps crew members took on the challenge of removing a trashed floating platform, constructed from 50-gallon drums, from the river. After loading it on two canoes and navigating it two miles downstream, they unloaded it on shore for recycling. Corps crews from Iowa and southern Minnesota helped clean up 22 miles of the Iowa River as part of the 10th annual Project AWARE (A Watershed Awareness River Expedition) during the crews’ mid-year retreat. Hundreds of volunteers canoed the river the week of July 7-14, cleaning up trash, exploring the river and learning about subjects from fly fishing to glacial history to freshwater mussels. From July 9-12, 45 corps members supported AWARE staff with logistics and removed large objects such as stoves, 50-gallon drums, a box spring mattress and hundreds of tires. Evenings included presentations on river-related topics and local community history. This year, 400 total volunteers pulled 55 tons of trash from 90 miles of the Iowa River. About 90 percent of the trash is recycled and some is used to build sculptures.

Conservation Corps Iowa member Zach Kopriva, serving as a DNR Water Trails field specialist, was a member of the cleanup event staff who collected trash at drop-off points and shuttled vehicles.  Kopriva has been working with DNR staff on the mapping, design and project management of various work projects such as signage, boat launches, portages and boater parking areas throughout Iowa.