With Large Garbage Pickup Gatherings Canceled, Earth Day Gets Smaller
April is Earth Month, while Earth Day is April 22. Normally there would be many events around the Twin Cities that focus on picking up garbage and keeping the Mississippi River clean. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, earth-friendly gatherings have been put on hold.
“One of the things that we’re doing now is canceling all of our spring volunteer stewardship events,” said Whitney Clark from Friends of the Mississippi River.
Clark says people have contacted her organization asking what they can do if they can’t come to an event.
According to Clark, residents can still do plenty to keep the Mississippi River clean. It just needs to be done in a smaller way.
“Some of those things include organizing your own litter pickup,” Clark said. “I want to emphasize you don’t have to go down to the river to pick up litter to keep litter out of the river. All of our storm sewers that drain our streets throughout the Twin Cities, almost all of them, drain to the Mississippi River. If you are picking up litter on your street and keeping it out of storm drains, you are probably keeping it out of the river too.”
Mississippi a Perfect Escape from COVID-19
Clark believes the Mississippi is a perfect escape from COVID-19. As long as people practice social distancing, the river can be a go-to spot.
“How fortunate we are to have the great Mississippi River and all of our amazing parks and trails along the river,” Clark said. “Especially during this time. A lot of us are cooped up inside most of the day. We can’t go to the office. We can’t do the things we’re normally used to doing. We can’t go to the gym. To be able to get out into nature, to reduce some of that anxiety, work off some of the pressure, it’s pretty special.
On Monday, the Mississippi was spilling its banks at River Park in Brooklyn Park. Water flowed over the boat ramp and into the parking lot.
“The river’s bigger today than it was yesterday or last week,” Clark said. “We’ve had a relatively dry spring, but it’s good to see that the river’s still popping up from time to time. We were worried earlier in the year that this could have been a record kind of flood year. Very, very high waters. But we haven’t seen that yet, thanks to this slow, gradual melt we’ve had this spring.”
The arrival of spring is the cue for some to prep their gardens and yards for summer and fall. Clark wants them to know there are smart ways to protect the river and waterways in their neighborhood while they strive for curb appeal.
“Things like being careful when you’re putting down fertilizer,” Clark said. “Not using fertilizer or pesticides if you don’t have too. Installing rain gardens or rain barrels around your house, at your down spouts, to reduce the amount of water that’s coming off your yard.”
Go to Friends of the Mississippi River for more information on Mississippi River-related news.