Volunteers participate in watershed cleanup

Saturday mornings are often reserved for sleeping in and watching cartoons, but last Saturday was a little more productive for some Minneapolis residents.

The city of Minneapolis’ Solid Waste and Recycling Division and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board sponsored the citywide Earth Day Watershed Clean Up event Saturday, where neighborhood members volunteered to pick up trash near bodies of water throughout the city.

The Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association student liaison Sydne Westorf organized the event held in Father Hennepin Bluffs Park near the Stone Arch Bridge -one of 36 sites to hold a Saturday cleanup.

Westorf said she was surprised to see so many students right away, but she had encouraged members of University greek organizations to come to the event.

While the turnout was significantly better this year, with 70 volunteers compared to last year’s 40, Westorf said cleanup isn’t only meant for one Saturday per year.

“Once a year is certainly not enough to take care of our earth,” she said.

Kristopher McNeill, an associate chemistry professor, brought graduate students to the event because they do environmentally related research. This year was the first year the group attended this particular site for cleanup.

Instead of extra credit, McNeill said students received bagels for their participation in the event – a reward donated by the neighborhood association and offered to all volunteers.

While litter has obvious effects on the aesthetic of the watershed, McNeill said it has a larger impact on an ecosystem.

“I think that the effects are not necessarily obvious, but a polluted environment is generally a degraded environment,” he said. “It’s good to clean it up.”

By Saturday afternoon, volunteers had gathered much of the trash in the area, but McNeill said it may not stay like that for long.

“Certainly if there wasn’t trash, we wouldn’t be cleaning it up,” he said. “I do think there is a cycle to it.”

Cordelia Pierson, an 18-year Marcy-Holmes resident, has participated in the event since she moved into the neighborhood and said it brings together residents who don’t see each other often.

While volunteers accumulated bottles, cigarette butts and paper trash throughout the day, Westorf said there was one most notable find – a message in a bottle.