National River Cleanup(TM)

Another year of the National River Cleanup™ has been launched by American Rivers, an NGO that focuses on establishing healthy rivers and clean water in America. The program, which mobilizes hundreds of thousands of volunteers to pick up trash from rivers nationwide, is poised for its most successful year to date.

American River near ColomaThe program “has growing participation with the most activity around it in the Spring, Summer and Fall,” Amy Kober, Communications Director for American Rivers, told me recently. Now in its 20th year, the National River Cleanup™ is generating record participation which is credited to a new online handbook, interactive map, and increased local outreach.

Volunteers pick up tons of trash that other people have dumped along the rivers and streams. Among the oddest finds “along the rivers of America are large appliances such as refrigerators,” Amy continued. Trash is more than just an eyesore – it can pollute drinking water supplies, threaten fish and wildlife, and hurt recreational opportunities.

American Rivers has found that “there’s a great desire for people to help restore the health of our rivers and give back to their communities,” Amy commented. “This is such a great way for people to get involved. Anybody can do it – kids, all ages, all abilities.” Seeing the garbage bags stack up gives people a sense of accomplishment that can feel like stewardship. “It can be a turning point for some people.”

By cleaning up and healing damaged rivers, American Rivers ensures that future generations will enjoy clean drinking water, abundant fish and wildlife, and opportunities to fish, paddle, and enjoy the great outdoors.

You can sign up on American Rivers’ website at or “There’s a simple form for people to register a clean up, and people can go there if they want to find a cleanup that’s already taking place.”

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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