(COLLAB) WHITE RIVER CLEANUP

This annual Delaware County conservation event takes our whole community! In 14 years, more than 4,618 local volunteers have removed over 800 tires and 65 TONS of trash from West Fork White River. Cleaning our local waterways creates a healthier habitat for the fish, mussels, macroinvertebrates, reptiles, birds, amphibians, & mammals (including us humans!) that call our river home!

Interested in volunteering but not sure what to expect?

Scroll through the info below to get a step-by-step feel of what your day volunteering at the White River Cleanup may be like. And, check out tips on what to wear & bring to make your day in the water safe, comfortable, & fun!

happy collabing!
– kort

Rainbow Darter; illustrated by Kortnie Huffman
bubbles
bubbles
Rainbow Darter; illustrated by Kortnie Huffman

& their many partners who help make it happen!

bubbles

look for the event every

September

Striped Shiner; illustrated by Kortnie Huffman

WHITE RIVER CLEANUP

IN 10 STEPS:

1) REGISTER

The site to pre-register as a White River Cleanup volunteer usually opens around July/August. Check the event hosts' websites & social media for updates. Registration includes signing a liability waiver. Volunteers under 18 will need a parent or designated supervisor present, and their parent/guardian must sign the waiver.

2) KICKOFF AT WESTSIDE PARK

White River Cleanup volunteers should meet at Westside Park in Muncie by 8am. When you arrive at the park, meet in the shelter furthest west & look for a big "White River Cleanup" banner. There will be additional parking in a nearby grassy area, also on the west side of the park.

If you need assistance at any time, look for a "Crew Leader" – we'll have neon shirts!

White River Cleanup Kickoff at Westside Park; photo by Kortnie Huffman
White River Cleanup Kickoff at Westside Park; photo by Kortnie Huffman

3) GATHER SUPPLIES

Near the check-in shelter, you'll see a trailer with cleanup supplies.

 

Pick up the following:

  • gloves (1)

  • recycling bag (1)

  • trash bag (1)

  • trash tongs/pickers (1*)

*there may not be enough tongs for each volunteer; if you're with a buddy, have 1 person use trash tongs & 1 person hold the bag open. Or, feel free to bring your own trash pickers (and gloves)!

trash tongs; illustrated by Kortnie Huffman

4) PICK A CLEANUP ROUTE

In the nearby greenspace, you'll see signs with a group #, route name, & type – walking or canoe.

Use your best judgement to pick a group that's right for you. If you're not comfortable in water above your waist, walking is for you. Hang out here until a shuttle picks you up.

TIP: canoe groups fill up fast & leave first, so arrive early (with buddies) if you want a canoe!

White River Cleanup sign for Group #2; photo by Kortnie Huffman
West Fork White River; photo by Kortnie Huffman

5) SHUTTLE TO CLEANUP SITE

Canoe Country & MITS help shuttle groups of volunteers to cleanup sites around 8:30-9am.

When you've reached your drop-off spot, your crew leader will take head counts, talk safety, & lead you to your group's starting area.
Please stay with your group – let crew know if you need to leave.

6) CLEAN OUR RIVER

Here we go! Volunteers spend the next 2-3 hours removing debris from in & around our White River – explore the river, banks, brush, and trees to pick up trash.

The general rule is if it's not naturally found in the wild, we remove it. There are a few exceptions:

  • some items are too large/heavy to remove (a crew leader can help call dispatch for assistance)

  • some items are not safe to retrieve – stay off train trestles & avoid log jams or downed trees

  • some items are not retrievable because it would disturb endangered wildlife (native mussels)

  • some items may belong to our unhoused community (don't disturb personal items under bridges)

White River Cleanup; photo by Kortnie Huffman
crayfish/crawdad in West Fork White River; photo by Kortnie Huffman

7) TAKE BREAKS

& have fun!

look for crawdads in a riffle!

Cleaning a river is hard work. Take breaks under trees to rest, hydrate, or snack whenever needed.

And, enjoy the scenery!
With a waterproof pouch, take pictures of our White River, wildlife you see, & the trash removed. Sharing your experience helps connect our community to its most important natural resource. 

8) TRASH DROP

There are designated trash drop locations for all groups. Tires will go in one pile, trash in the other.

Gators (not alligators) will be traveling on the Greenway to help with heavy loads or extra supplies – flag them down if you need help in a walking group!

When canoes are full, hop in and continue on to your trash drop. Enjoy the float!

Never leave trash at unmarked locations.

trash drop from White River Cleanup; photo by Kortnie Huffman
MITS bus

9) SHUTTLE BACK TO WESTSIDE PARK

Woot! Thanks for making a difference in our community!

We wrap up around 12pm.

Volunteer groups meet at their designated pick-up location & will be shuttled back to Westside Park.

10) LUNCH AT WESTSIDE PARK

Feel free to use the restroom or porta johns, hand washing stations, & water truck when you're back! (preferably in that order, please!) 

Check your supplies back in at the registration table. They'll help point you to a well-earned meal and any swag available that year. Enjoy lunch at the shelters!

2021 volunteers enjoyed lunch from local food vendors
Sea Salt & Cinnamon & Three Bears Concessions – YUM.

Indiana American Water truck; photo by Kortnie Huffman

A FEW QUICK TIPS

CONSIDER BRINGING:

– waterproof bag to carry personal items
– water & snacks
– first aid / health needs (i.e., EpiPen for bee stings; inhaler)
– bug repellent (mosquitoes)
– sunscreen


And, feel free to bring your own trash pickers, gloves, and/or bags!

CONSIDER WEARING:

bubbles; illustrated by Kortnie Huffman
Striped Shiner; illustrated by Kortnie Huffman

– hat or sunglasses (or both – the sun's reflection on the river can be bright!)
– old clothes that can get dirty & wet (think mud, rust)
– old closed-toed shoes that can get dirty & wet (sneakers, water shoes, waterproof boots, waders)

AVOID:

– bringing non-essential personal items (they could easily get lost in the river or slip into a trash bag)
– rain boots if you plan to clean in the river (they can get very heavy and may cause blisters)
– flip flops or new kicks

AND, A SAFETY CHECK

LOOKOUT FOR HAZARDS

– nature (beehives, poison ivy, snakes, invasive zebra mussels – they're very sharp)
– sharp objects (metal, syringes, broken glass)
– unsafe objects (barrel drums, meth labs)
Again, stay off train trestles & avoid log jams or downed trees.

DON'T MOVE A MUSSEL!

The Endangered Species Act protects our native mussel populations from take – it's illegal to harm, harass, or touch freshwater mussels (& their shells). So, leave them be in our waterways!

debris removed from West Fork White River; photo by Kortnie Huffman

broken glass

a native mussel in West Fork White River; photo by Kortnie Huffman

native mussel

LEARN MORE FROM THE EVENT HOSTS

LEARN ABOUT OUR RIVER INHABITANTS

want to see pics of the river you can help clean?

bubbles; illustrated by Kortnie Huffman
bubbles; illustrated by Kortnie Huffman
RiverRocks-fullScreen.png
White Heelsplitter; illustrated by Kortnie Huffman
River Chub; illustration by Kortnie Huffman