Peru — The Wabash River may always be muddy and slow, but it doesn’t have to be littered.
As it weaves through the city, it’s clogged by log jams and discarded trash. But not for long, if Jamin Beisiegel has his way.
Stormwater coordinator for Peru Utilities and advocate for cleaning the river, Beisiegel is reaching out to the community to help “Detrash the Wabash” from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. Volunteers will clean up the river’s banks.
The semi-annual river cleanup occurs in the spring and fall, he said. The purpose is to not only clean up the river, but also to make people aware of the river’s significance through education.
“We tell them that anything you put into a storm drain goes into the river. All pipes lead here,” said Beisiegel, who has been with the utility for almost five years.
“You would be appalled at some of the things you find in the river. We’ve found a wheel chair, a shopping cart and a brand new bicycle. We want to educate people about the river and keep it clean.”
To accomplish that, Beisiegel understands he needs volunteers.
Volunteers are asked to meet at the intersection of West City Park Canal Street and Park Avenue. They are asked to wear boots, long-sleeved shirts and gloves.
He expects that if the weather is good, “we may get 100. If the weather is lousy, we will get a lot fewer.”
Not relying upon Mother Nature’s fickleness, Beisiegel has coordinated the cleanup with Charlie Skoog, the Adopt-A-River director for the Wildcat Guardians, a private environmental/
As its director, Skoog leads and facilitates litter and debris cleanups for the Kokomo portion of the Wildcat Creek — a major tributary of the Wabash connecting near Lafayette.
Skoog also is a volunteer coordinator of the Nickel Plate Trail. In addition, as a Boy Scout volunteer, he has assisted in Eagle Scout projects on keeping trails and waterways clean.
Skoog understands Beisiegel needs volumes of volunteers and he’s ready to volunteer himself.
“Detrashing trails and rivers is one of my many passions,” he said.
With rivers and trails providing recreation and business opportunities, he added, people should get involved in keeping trails and waterways clean.
“To see trash, to see people dump stuff, in the river or on the trails is very offensive to the eye. It’s not natural,” said Skoog.
“We cleaned up the Wildcat and I saw a bald eagle. I got goose bumps. You never see a bald eagle in downtown Kokomo. Since the cleanup, we have spotted them on a regular basis.
“Cleaning up the Wildcat and the Wabash adds to the quality of life in Howard and Miami counties,” he continued. “There are grants out there to clean up trails and rivers. When businesses want to move, they look at things like that, too. They think, ‘That’s cool, this community gets it.’ Cleaning is another tool in the tool box for economic development. It improves the quality of life.
“Some communities get it, some don’t.”