Organizers of an upcoming Ohio River cleanup are looking for a dozen or so kayakers and canoeists to help with the volunteer effort.
Paddle Without Pollution has organized the first Neville Island/Sewickley Ohio River clean up for the morning of July 28. That’s when volunteers will launch from Glenfield and spend time in the area picking up tires, chairs, barrels and plastic litter.
In addition to kayaks and canoes, Melissa Rohm, one of the organization’s executive directors, said a couple of people are needed on land to help paddlers unload their boats.
“There’s a lot of garbage,” she said.
Just last year, Melissa and her husband David Rohm started Paddle Without Pollution to help clean up the waterways after the couple grew tired of seeing garbage strewn about the rivers.
Kayakers for 13 years, they had always picked up trash along the way.
But one day while the two paddled on the Monongahela River for the first time, the litter was quite overwhelming.
“We couldn’t believe how much garbage there was,” she said.
Offhandedly, she told her husband there should be a clean up in the area.
He replied, “Hey we’re a non-profit. We’re called ‘Paddle Without Pollution’ and we’re going to have our first clean up here.”
The non-profit stewardship organization was born. In September 2011, about 40 people volunteered to help. That number nearly doubled last month when, on National Public Lands Day, about 70 people joined a June 9 clean up of the Three Rivers in downtown Pittsburgh.
Rohm said this spring and summer has averaged at least one clean-up a month.
During their last, volunteers spent time on the Susquehanna River helping to clear debris and garbage left behind last year from the September floods.
“There were parts of houses in the river,” Rohm said.
Paddle Without Pollution thrives thanks to volunteers, including the Rohm's who both have full-time jobs. Rohm said she is grateful for those who show up to help.
“I’ve never met a harder group of working people in my life,” she said. “They never complain. They make it fun. It’s just unbelievable how hard they make it work.”
Paddle Without Pollution seeks to have about 30 volunteers with kayaks and canoes for the Saturday, July 28 cleanup. So far 20 have signed up, but 10-15 more are needed. Canoes from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will also be provided.
Any paddling skill level is welcome. Those on the water help to get into ecologically sensitive and shallow areas that many boats cannot reach and inaccessible areas that land-based cleanup crews cannot reach.
Gloves and bags will be provided. Lunch and prizes will be awarded after the event.