Thanks for a great River Gorge Earth Day Cleanup! from Friends of the Mississippi River

The Earth Day cleanup in the Minneapolis River Gorge has become an annual tradition. Neighbors and community members turn out to celebrate and take care of the river, its banks and trails.

This year, we held the event on Saturday, April 20, arguably the first day that really felt like spring. Volunteers enjoyed full sun, a sparkling river, and the first leaves in the forest.

We almost worried the weather was too nice, that people might opt to go for a bike ride instead. But our turnout broke records.

More than 460 people volunteered their morning for the river.

By 9:00 a.m., crowds of volunteers gathered to don gloves and pick up trash and recycling bags before dispersing along the many trails through the River Gorge.
FMR Stewardship & Education Program Director Adam Flett points the way.
A few of the groups, families and neighbors who volunteered.

We got to chat with all kinds of people about why they came.

“I just moved here, and I’m impressed with Minnesota’s parks and trails. They’re so accessible from the neighborhoods.”

— Kelsey King

“We’re here because we want to help the earth!”

—Ashantty Zuniga

“It’s nice to reduce the footprint a little. So many people use this area, and it’s so beautiful here.”

—Laura Guerrero

"My daughter and I come together. We enjoy it. We feel like we’re making a difference and it’s a nice way to spend a Saturday morning. I’m taking another yellow bag and going back. My daughter’s still down there."

—Shawn Willy (FMR supporter for 10 years)

We asked Shawn what he'd lugged up the hill: "A saw, white fluff, carpet samples, clothing…"

“The Gorge is part of our community, and we want to clean up the places we spend time in.”

— Ellen Palmer, Longfellow resident who came with her partner Scott Alsleben and kids Lilly and Walter

What did we clean up?

Volunteers cleaned up plenty of cigarette butts and other small trash, but here's a short (and incomplete) list of some other finds we rescued from the river: part of a bed frame, a football, pieces of pipe, a sign post, old DVDs... even an agate!

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped clean up the only gorge on the entire Mississippi River.

Just one of the dropoff piles.
From your team at Friends of the Mississippi River: Daniel Schmidt (intern), Sophie Downey (program assistant), Amy Kilgore (volunteer coordinator) and Kelly Neal (long-time Gorge Steward).

And thanks to our Gorge Stewards Program partners and funders:

Longfellow Community Council, Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, Andeavor Foundation, RBC Wealth Management, The Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, Xcel Energy, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, US Forest Service, Great Lakes Brewing Company, and Sitka Salmon Shares.

If you weren't able to attend the cleanup but would like to receive notice of future FMR River Gorge Stewards events and outings, email Amy at volunteer@fmr.org.

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