By TEDDYE SNELL
Save The Illinois River Inc. is known for advocating for clean water within the Illinois River and Lake Tenkiller.
Often, those advocacy efforts involve speaking to members of the Legislature, as well as civic groups, to raise awareness. This past weekend, though, STIR members took its efforts to a new level, hosting a Town Branch Creek Cleanup as part of its Earth Day events.
“STIR has spent so much time advocating for clean water within the legal system and the Legislature, and we want to do more hands-on activities to involve the community and generate interest in the organization,” said STIR Vice President Barb Daily. “We have no illusions that this event may not effect non-point source pollution, but it does raise awareness and sets a great example for the younger kids.”
According to Daily, volunteers for Saturday’s event collected 23 bags of trash, and eight bags of recyclable material. The group met at the pedestrian bridge in Sequoyah City Park at 10 a.m. to register, receive gloves and get trash bags.
“We collected trash all along Town Branch,” said Daily. “We had people in Sequoyah City Park, Ross Park and Felts Park. A group of college kids went up on campus to collect trash along the creek near the president’s home. I think we covered a pretty good area. Josh Hutchins of Tahlequah Recycling Inc. brought his truck, Kermit, to pick up the recyclables.”
Three Tahlequah students – THS seniors Julianne Anderson and Raven Robinson, and TMS student Nathaniel Anderson – took part in the cleanup.
“We love this park and wanted to come down and help out,” said Julianne.
Daily commended the kids’ efforts.
“They were first to show up, the first to receive free hot dogs, and the last to leave,” said Daily. “They were a lot of help. You know, if we could just educate our children a little better, it would go a long way to preventing litter problems.”
Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission Administrator Ed Fite and Outreach Coordinator Cassandra Carter also pitched in.
“I knew about the cleanup from STIR’s posts on social media and website,” said Carter. “I go to the creek at Sequoyah City Park a lot, so I wanted to take part in cleaning it up.”
Carter said she noticed there were fewer cigarette butts than usual, thanks to the efforts of Students Working Against Tobacco groups and a city ordinance that prohibits tobacco in the parks.
“I think it’s important that OSRC lend a hand to help keep the watershed clean,” said Carter.
Fite believes controlling the litter problem is simple.
“I always say, ‘Pick up two pieces of trash a day,’” said Fite. “If everyone would do that, we’d have a good-looking community.”
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