Clean Sweep

Every fall, Great Parks of Hamilton County leads volunteers as part of an annual statewide effort to remove trash and improve the health of the Great Miami River.


This opportunity to volunteer alongside one of the most beautiful waterways in Ohio also offers a chance to learn about native wildlife and to help gain a clearer understanding of the impacts of improper waste disposal.


On October 27th, starting at 9am, volunteers will meet at Shawnee Lookout Park and work until noon.


Great Parks of Hamilton County volunteer coordinator Niki Marengo says the average number of participants is 40-60.


Last year, she explains, it was cold and rainy, but that did not deter volunteers. “It’s very encouraging to see people show up despite the weather,” she says.


Participants learn about the items that end up as litter — purposely, such as plastic containers, and accidentally, such as athletic balls. Marengo says that while most of this is about the volunteering, there is also an education aspect.


The collected trash includes mostly plastic bottles, according to Marengo, plus Styrofoam, which doesn’t degrade, and all kind of sports balls. Along with an assortment of wrappers, they also find larger items from toys to shopping carts and even refrigerators.


The trash is disposed of appropriately, and much of it is recycled.


This is part of a multi-site effort that happens all along the Great Miami River, an approximately 170-mile-long tributary of the Ohio River.


The Great Miami River is habitat to diverse wildlife including bald eagles and egrets, and if volunteers are lucky enough, they may spot one.


Volunteers are encouraged to wear layers and a good pair of a boots. The area is marshy and can also contain hazardous items, including needles.


“If people want to come, it gets mucky by the river,” says Marengo. “We’ve had someone lose a shoe!”


This is a good excuse to get outside and enjoy the fall colors while also cleaning up one of the county’s nicest parks, which features views of the Ohio River and surrounding areas.


The event is free and open to all. Participants will receive a free T-shirt and reusable water bottle and must register online by October 26. Volunteers will meet at the Shawnee Lookout Park canoe/kayak launch at 2008 Lawrenceburg Road.

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Read more articles by Emily Dillingham.

Emily Dillingham is a Cincinnati native and University of Cincinnati graduate with degrees in English and Geology. She writes full-time for a local material science company and lives in Brighton with her husband and pack of dogs. Follow her on Instagram @keeperoftheplants