Friends of the Mississippi River to hold beach clean up on St. Feriole Island

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By Caitlin Bittner

With the beautiful summer weather, many people are spending more time outside along the riverfront. Unfortunately, a time that is meant to be for relaxing and fun is turning into a time spent picking up trash.

“I spend a lot of time down there,” said 29-year-old Desiree Stephenson, organizer of the upcoming community service events to clean up the St. Feriole Island’s Mississippi River beach.

Stephenson said that the desire to do something about the conditions of the beach stemmed from an afternoon with her kids and friends. “We spent about an hour cleaning just so the kids could play. We ended up with a plastic bag full.”

Stephenson noted that there was a large amount of broken glass in the sand. “There are no signs that say ‘no glass,’” which Stephenson stated is something she hopes to see one day. Although she is sure that some of the debris on the beach is linked to the higher water levels of the spring, she thinks it is important for people who use the beach to take some responsibility.

“I don’t think it’ll take much to make a difference. It could be as simple as people cleaning up after themselves,” Stephenson explained.

Stephenson and a group of her friends are planning to make a change and start doing something. “It’s a good chance to do something good,” remarked Stephenson, who also hopes that the clean up can become an annual occurrence.

The events will take place on Sunday, July 12, and Sunday, Aug. 2, from 9 a.m. to noon. Anyone is welcome to come and be a part of the effort to clean up. Stephenson suggests that people who come should bring a rake, gloves, garbage bags (particularly recyclable ones), water, sunscreen and proper shoes. “We’ll have a first aid kit on-hand in case someone gets cut.”

Stephenson, who has two kids, has always enjoyed spending time on the river. “I just want a clean beach and a garbage can,” she laughed. “I see a lot of potential. The riverway is a great resource we need to take care of.”

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