Annual Barge Party Kicks Off Xstream Cleanup - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Annual Barge Party Kicks Off Xstream Cleanup

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The Mississippi runs through our community and brings us together for commerce and recreation.

Quad City native Chad Pregracke has dedicated his life to cleaning up the river and tonight the "CNN Hero of the Year" is hosting the annual Living Lands and Waters Barge Party in Schwiebert Park.

There's a barge there where you can see what volunteers will be encountering this weekend picking up trash along waterways across the QCA during the 11th annual Xstream Cleanup. A giant pile of tires, mattresses and appliances are just a few items that have been fished out of our rivers and streams.

But before they get their hands dirty, some of them are here celebrating another year of restoring and keeping our rivers clean.

"They think this is a disposal site," said co-founding member of Xstream Cleanup Curtis Lundy.

The Mississippi River banks, right now it's home to many things that don't belong and will be picked up this weekend.

"One year we got a boat, several toilets, a washing machine, dryers, Chad found a bowling balls that they get and what is a bowling ball doing in the river?" said Lundy.

He said you never know what you might find floating along a river or stream and area waterways are sometimes used for illegal dumping.

But he said every year seems to be an improvement from the last.

"I think the word... people, parents telling their kids, kids seeing something that they dislike very much and seeing what they have done to make things clean...The message is getting out and around and making a difference," said Lundy.

He said nearly 1,400 children and adults come out to help clean up not just the big rivers, but 40 streams and waterways across the QCA.

Each year they pick up 20-30 tons of garbage.

"And it's just so good to get all the plastic out of the river," said Lundy.

Which all helps to keep area wildlife safe.

But during Xstream, they're also focusing on getting rid of invasive plant species.

"Things like trees and bushes that don't belong here that are coming in and crowding out our native prairie," said director of Nahant Marsh Brian Ritter

He said if they didn't take out plants like these willow trees, the whole prairie would turn into a forest and push out animals like the river otter, mink and muskrat.

"This is sort of native that's behaving badly and without regular fire down here and grazers like elk and things like that to control these, these really get out of hand quickly," said Ritter.

The 11th annual Xstream Cleanup is this Saturday from 8:30am to 11:30am.

Registration for volunteers is already closed.

 

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