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Monday, April 22, 2019
2018Communitycommunity serviceEnvironmentEnvironmentalismeventHocking HillsHocking RiverLocal NewsNatureNewsOhioriver clean upriver sweep

Help Keep Ohio’s Rivers Clean and Beautiful — Hocking River Clean Up

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By KAYLEE DUFF
(Images courtesy of Friends of Hocking River)

On Saturday, September 22, the Friends of Hocking River (FOHR) is sponsoring its 38th river clean up in Hocking Hills!

There is zero doubt that these river sweeps are key when it comes to maintaining a clean river. Many sweeps average up to 100 tires and fill a 20 yard dumpster.

The Hocking River Sweep is part of a larger coordinated effort known as the Great Ohio River Sweep, organized by the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO). This targets clean up efforts along the entire expanse of the Ohio River and its tributaries.

FOHR hosts two of these river sweeps every year, one in the summer and one in the fall. Individual volunteers and groups are welcome at both, and participating is free! Each participant is provided a canoe and tools (while supplies last) and transportation to their designated clean up location.

The Hocking River Sweep is an “in-stream clean up,” which means that volunteers will be navigating stretches of the Hocking River at designated take-in and take-out locations along a 14-mile stretch of the Hocking River, from Sugar Grove to Logan.

There are even a few locations for volunteers who wish to help, but don’t want to be in the water. These includes put-in and take-out locations, and areas of Hocking River that border public parks in Logan.

This summer’s sweep was postponed due to high water and flooding, so it’s a good bet there is a lot to remove.

Registration for the river sweep is 7:30 to 9 a.m. on September 22, at the Hocking Valley Canoe Livery. If the clean up is postponed for any reason, the alternate date will be the following Saturday.

Volunteers are required to sign two waivers: one for the FOHR and another for use of the Hocking Valley Canoe Livery equipment. Parents must sign a separate waiver for their minor children. Participants will also be provided general safety instructions and a safety guide concerning found needles.

The Friends of Hocking River supplied some helpful tips for those wanting to volunteer:

  • Wear old tennis shoes or river shoes (flip-flops or open-toed sandals are not recommended) and old clothes (that you don’t want to use again except for another river sweep).
  • Bring bug spray, sunscreen and water bottles to have in your boat. (They will provide water and snacks at the take-outs).
  • Bring a change of dry clothes and an old towel for afterwards (you’ll be glad you did!). The fall clean ups require special attention to air and water temperatures — please note the weather conditions beforehand, and bring a sweater or jacket suitable for wet outdoor activities (no cotton, please!).
  • Volunteers should be paired by skill level (for example, experienced with inexperienced paddlers).
  • FOHR are only able to accommodate as many volunteers as the canoe livery can supply canoes. They try to accommodate large groups, but cannot guarantee any special requests. River sweeps sometimes get as many as 80 to 100 volunteers!
  • Depending on the number of volunteers and supplied canoes, some solo volunteers will be paired with other solo volunteers to allow everyone an opportunity to participate.
  • Not everyone will be asked to sweep the same stretch of river. The area to be cleaned is a 14-mile stretch broken into four to five sections (depending on the number of volunteers). The further a group starts upstream or downstream from the livery, the more challenging the conditions — both with the river and the amount of trash. They cannot put all the boats in the most technically easy stretch of the river, for obvious reasons. It helps to know your group’s abilities and decide ahead who should be paired with whom. It’s good to pair an adult with a child (or an experienced paddler with a novice).
  • All minors must be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian (or be registered with a group leader) and have signed releases to participate.
  • River and weather conditions may force cancellation without notice. The Hocking Valley Canoe Livery has final say about putting boats on the river. Generally speaking, they will cancel when the river reaches 3’ on the hydrologic station in Enterprise. Call the Canoe Livery at 1-800-686-0386 on the day of the clean up to see if it’s been called off.

As with any activity on the water, FOHR want to emphasize safety. In-stream river clean ups require extra care! They ask that volunteers know their abilities (and comfort level) before committing.

It sounds like a fun time, while helping keep our rivers clean!

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For more information about the Friends of Hocking River and their clean ups and events, visit their site.

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