Calling all Kinni-cleaning crewsMost who know it call the Kinnickinnic River a community treasure, flowing smack through River Falls’ downtown and for miles in either direction of the city.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
Most who know it call the Kinnickinnic River a community treasure, flowing smack through River Falls’ downtown and for miles in either direction of the city.
It boasts a Class I trout-stream status and hosts an uncountable number of often-delighted fisherpersons, kayakers, canoeists, hikers, bird watchers and nature lovers.
The Kinnickinnic River Land Trust is putting out the all-call for the big annual event next week that removes a mountain of unwanted trash from in and around the local river.
You can register now for the Kinni River Cleanup, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, April 21, rain or shine.
KRLT Director Steve Fodroczi said crews can check in at the main picnic shelter at Glen Park -- nearest the baseball field and tennis courts.
There, volunteers will find grilled fare -- probably burgers and brats -- 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. provided by local owner of the West Wind Supper Club, Kevin Pechacek, and the River Falls Rotary Club.
Fodroczi said KRLT provided food last year but served it at one designated time. This year’s plan will give volunteers more flexibility and time to grab a bite.
In years past, volunteers have met in the Shopko parking lot or at the land trust office.
This year the goal was to make it easy and simple for volunteers to check in then come and go as they need.
What better place to use as cleanup headquarters, says Fodroczi, than a lovely city park sitting right alongside the Kinni?
Fodroczi said all volunteers must register, either on cleanup day or beforehand through the KRLT web site. Adult volunteers must sign a waiver, and parents must register their children under 18.
KRLT will disperse volunteers from Glen Park to an assigned area. If people have preferences or special equipment for the job, they should mention them when they’re registering.
“We want to match the workers with the ability,” Fodroczi said, adding that it is also good to have an idea of how many people are coming for the day.
The most experienced Kinni crews know there are wild, hilly, deep and remote parts of the river that can present a challenge.
That is another reason volunteers are encouraged to mention any special capabilities or needs they have, like waders or a boat to go into the water, small children who need an easy route or, conversely, a group that wants the tougher terrain.
Some groups request the same spot each year, and Fodroczi said KRLT tries to accommodate them.
There is a group of hardy kayakers that will cruise the lower Kinni by water. Other groups, like Scouts and 4-H, also ask for the same area each year.
Fodroczi called it a big deal that the UW-River Falls chapter of Ducks Unlimited claimed a large part of the cleanup effort. There will be 30-40 students taking care of river parts nearest the university.
“They’re taking on the campus,” he said, “including the South Fork.”
He advises volunteers to dress for the job and the weather.
Most cleanup veterans slather on sunscreen and bug spray, wear long pants, hike-worthy shoes and gloves, and bring plenty of water.
KRLT will give volunteers a detailed map and directions -- and supply the trash bags.
Asked what areas the cleanup covers, Fodroczi says basically the whole river, but mainly the access points and other parts in the city plus pathways along the central portions.
The city and university are both helping with trash disposal.
River Falls Tire agreed to take any big rubber pieces that volunteers will inevitably find in the river. The director says he’s heard some are found every year.
Fodroczi said he’s grateful for the help, “I’m excited to have that kind of community support.”
He said the cleanup effort exemplifies the adage ‘every little bit helps.’
“This is the one activity where people can have a very direct and personal impact on the health of the river,” Fodroczi said.
The Kinnickinnic River Land Trust is a nonprofit based in River Falls that uses various methods to work with area landowners to protect the 22-mile river and its watershed of 108,000 acres from threats of pollution and development.
Pre-register for the Kinni River Cleanup at KRLT’s web site: www.kinniriver.org.