In an organized effort, hundreds of volunteers picked up garbage in and around Minnehaha Creek Sunday morning.
Now 50 years old, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District covers 181 square miles, including eight major creeks, more than 120 lakes and thousands of wetlands.
Wading in the water, Michael Skorka was one of the many kids eager to find trash in the 22-mile Minnehaha Creek.
“It’s kind of fun to venture into the water with gloves to try and find stuff,” Skorka said.
He pulled out a handheld vacuum cleaner just minutes after pulling out a large bike wheel.
“I like picking up garbage because it’s good for the lake, the water and the ducks,” Skorka said.
In addition to the big cleanup, volunteers also cleaned storm drains and stenciled a message nearby. Next to a fish, the message read, “keep it clean, drains to Minnehaha Creek.” Telly Mamayek, the MCWD’s communications director, said storm water runoff carrying salt, fertilizer and trash continues to be the number one threat to the watershed.
“There’s a lot of parking lots here, a lot of streets, a lot of rooftops,” Mamayek said. “Those hard surfaces do not observe rainfall, it runs off.”
Mamayek said in an email Sunday afternoon volunteers collected 1,134 pounds, or more than one-half ton, of trash in the cleanup in St. Louis Park and Hopkins.
Another cleanup event to celebrate the 50th anniversary is scheduled for August 19 at Lake Hiawatha Park in Minneapolis.
In 50 years, the MCWD has helped fund and carry out several studies and restoration projects, but Mamayek said everyone can take small, simple initiatives to improve the quality of the watershed.
“There’s a lot you can do and we’re educating people every day,” Mamayek said. “More and more people are understanding how important it is that each individual take that action.”