By Paul Klonowski
In 2016, the Lake County Forest Preserve District’s Des Plaines River Stewardship Crew held somewhere in excess of 75 training and work days, involving 30 active regular volunteers (5 are new for 2016), and 53 “one-timers,” including people from two corporate groups, a paddlesports club, a Boy Scout’s Eagle Scout Project, and one volunteer we borrowed from McHenry County Conservation District’s Education Volunteer corps. The combined efforts resulted in the collection and removal of an estimated 6,170lbs of trash from the river and its flood plains this year, including one of our biggest single-day trash hauls ever, estimated at 1,400lbs of trash! All told, we logged 1,382 hours of volunteer time, which is another record year for us!
Trash items of interest include: a wading pool, a large tradesman’s style truck rack, two wood duck houses, a truck bumper & body panels, a length of chain link fence, a hypodermic syringe (with no needle), an unused condom (still in its package), an Adirondack chair, the trunk lid from an old car, a live fish on an abandoned troll line (we released the fish), most of a Big Wheel Tricycle, a sign post, two empty moonshine jugs, a large road sign, a Stop sign, a 30-gallon oil tank, a broken blue sink (which matched the blue toilet taken out a few years back), a broken green toilet, a trash can (it was handy), a “lunch litter” site behind Liberty Auto City, bones from what we think was a horse, parts of a blue pickup truck, a hub cap from a De Soto automobile, a couch, the remains of a cardboard boat, an inflatable raft, a fresh bag of groceries, two pallets, more truck parts, a large picnic cooler bucket, a pile of slate shingles, an unusable wheelbarrow, a small roll of carpet, a 55-gallon trash barrel, three or four deck chairs, a 1,000-gallon fuel tank, a 12-foot section of culvert, two dead chickens, and 23 coconuts.
In addition, we collected 52 tires of various sizes, and cut through or did some maintenance trimming on 41 log jams. We also identified one old dump site that will require Operations to clean up: it contains at least 20 truck tires and several large truck parts, half-buried in the banks of Half Day Pits, in Lincolnshire. On December 30th, we found an old dump site that we’ll clean up after the ground thaws.
We spent one of our scheduled work days at Greenbelt Forest Preserve, planting shrubs and small trees, after learning that extra help was needed for that effort.
But the crown jewel for the year was the final removal of the remains of the 1948 Chevy pickup truck, near our tool shed. Eighteen Boy Scouts & Scouters can move a lot of heavy stuff, very quickly…
Not a bad year, I think! And 2017 is off to a grand start, with ten (10) new volunteers lined up for this year, so far!