Hundreds of Volunteers Remove River Trash During Low Water Conditions in Raccoon Rivers

Hundreds of Volunteers Remove River Trash During Low Water Conditions in Raccoon Rivers
August 20, 2021 -- NORTH, MIDDLE AND SOUTH RACCOON RIVERS – 16 tons: What do you get?

After a one-year pause, nearly 320 volunteers were able to remove this much trash from almost 50 miles of river between Jefferson and Perry and from Redfield to Van Meter, Iowa.

Mid July of this summer, a total of 319 volunteers took part in the 18th Iowa Project AWARE: A Watershed Awareness River Expedition, paddling 49 miles of the North, Middle and South Raccoon Rivers.

The original route was to paddle from Whiterock Conservancy to Van Meter. However, “exceptionally low river levels forced plans to shift from the original route, which meant a bit longer shuttles for volunteers,” said Lynette Seigley, event coordinator. “However, thanks to terrific partnerships across county conservation boards, nonprofit organizations and other local organizations, we made a fairly smooth transition in such a short time span.”

On the average, 200 volunteers paddled each day on the event, camping in local parks along the way. A total of 269 tires were removed from the rivers along the way, totaling more than 5 tons of material. Metal and other recyclable material comprised 9.6 tons of the week’s haul. What remained was 0.84 tons of non-recyclable trash, only five percent of the total yield.

"This isn't just a week of paddling with friends - it is a week of cleaning our rivers, enhancing conservation efforts and awareness in our state, AND paddling with friends!" said Lizz Curoe, a second-year volunteer from Bernard, IA.

Volunteers ranged from three to 79 years in age, with 43 percent of registered volunteers participating for the first time. In addition to Iowa, volunteers came from Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and Wisconsin.

As an event, Iowa Project AWARE aims to grow a sense of community among “people who take land stewardship seriously,” said Justin Allen of Maplewood, MN. His sixth year volunteering, Allen continues, “It isn’t a chore. In fact, it’s incredibly fun and gratifying to confront the issues that face our environment. It feels empowering to know we have enough resources and people to actually make a difference."

Dallas County Conservation Board (DCCB) was proud to serve as both a partner in the planning process and also a host for Iowa Project AWARE volunteers during the cleanup. Paraphrasing American poet Gary Snyder about how “real work" bringing life to the world around us, Environmental Educator and Naturalist Chris Adkins expressed his gratitude on behalf of the agency. “From all of us here in the Raccoon River watershed, thank you for making our world more ‘real’.”

Follow Iowa Project AWARE on Facebook for event photos and information about the next cleanup event. Also visit


18th Annual Iowa Project AWARE
July 11-16, 2021
Middle, South, North Raccoon Rivers
Jefferson to Perry (North Raccoon River), Redfield to Van Meter (Middle and South Raccoon Rivers)

Media Contact: Lynette Seigley at (319) 351-9393 or