Little Miami River Clean Sweep picks up 2,000 pounds of trash

Former Ohio First Lady Hope Taft, left, and former Gov. Bob Taft participate in the Little Miami River Kleeners Clean Sweep on June 7 near Spring Valley. David Jablonski/Staff

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Former Ohio First Lady Hope Taft, left, and former Gov. Bob Taft participate in the Little Miami River Kleeners Clean Sweep on June 7 near Spring Valley. David Jablonski/Staff

Event has been held annually since 2010

The coronavirus pandemic did not stop the Little Miami River Kleeners from continuing their annual efforts to protect the river.

The group pulled about 2,000 pounds of trash from the Little Miami River in a two-week period that ended Saturday. The annual Clean Sweep usually takes place on one day. But to allow volunteers to maintain social distance this year, the group asked families to sign up for specific areas of the river and to pick a day between June 6 and June 20.

About 171 people participated, and they spread over an area stretching from John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs south to Morrow. Some cleaned from canoes while others walked the banks of the river.

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“I was very happy with the turnout,” said Jess Evans, event chair for the Little Miami Watershed Network. “We were hoping we’d at least get 100 people to sign up. In years past, we’ve had 200 to 300. When we passed 100, I was really excited. They did get into it.”

Evans said she told volunteers to not worry about tires this year because they’re so hard to move and discard, but they pulled eight tires from the river anyway.

Former Ohio First Lady Hope Taft, who co-founded the Little Miami River Kleeners in 2010 with Steve Kopp, cleaned a section of the river near Spring Valley on June 7 with her husband Bob, the former Ohio governor. They filled several bags with trash, finding the remains of shoes, cans and all sorts of discarded plastic.

It was hard to judge whether the river was cleaner or dirtier than normal. Heavy rains in May picked up trash and moved it all over the place, Evans said, though the river level had dropped by the time the cleanup began, making it easier for people to navigate the banks in canoes.

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“One thing that was nice about it being done over a two-week period was we could have somebody at Constitution Park (in Spring Valley), for example,” Evans said, “and three or four days later, someone would clean it up again. The trash kept coming. Rarely did someone go to a place and say, ‘Oh, there’s no trash here.’”

Future event: The Little Miami River Kleeners will hold their annual Trailblazer Adventure from July 18 through Aug 5. Families are encouraged to enjoy the river corridor on foot, on a bike or in a canoe, going on a scavenger hunt to find educational points.

More information on the free event is available LMRiverKleeners.org, and people can also register there.

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