Roll up your sleeves, lace up your shoes for earth day

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April 13, 2009 // UPDATED 9:14 am - April 13, 2009
By: Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas
Annual Watershed Clean Up is April 18

If you can put up with the occasional snow shower and appreciate that 45 degrees is a heckuva lot warmer than zero, spring is a lovely time of year.

Except for one thing: All that litter we could ignore because it was buried under piles of snow is suddenly visible again, thawing in the gutters.

The Earth Day Watershed Clean Up, now in its 15th year, is every Minneapolitan’s chance to do something about that trash. Volunteers plan to gather at 41 sites across the city 9:30 a.m.–noon April 18 and give the city, particularly its parks, a thorough spring-cleaning.

Last April, the 2,859 participants picked up nearly 8 pounds of garbage each, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board reported.

“We picked up 22,000 pounds of garbage in about two-and-a-half hours and we only covered 5 percent of the city,” Arik Rudolph, Park Board community events organizer, said.

That, Rudolph added, “is kind of a scary fact.”

The amount of garbage hauled off after last year’s Watershed Clean Up actually topped 22,500 pounds, according to city estimates. If you extrapolated those figures, a similar effort covering 100 percent of the city would be expected to net 225 tons of trash.

Clearly, there is a lot of work to do.

“I always tell people I’m looking forward to the day when we keep expanding Clean Up sites and the pounds of trash start going down,” Rudolph said.

Local church, neighborhood and school groups coordinate most Clean Up sites. Show up dressed to work and they’ll provide gloves, trash bags and directions.

Clean Up day is also a chance for local outdoors and environmental groups to connect with the public. The Park Board tries to arrange for groups to provide programming at every site, Rudolph said.

Members of the Surfrider Foundation will be at the Lake Harriet Band Shell to promote clean beaches, said MN-Superior Chapter Vice President Jim Perry, a Lynnhurst resident who does most of his surfing in San Diego.

Other sites will have representatives from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Science Museum of Minnesota and other organizations.

Rudolph said the annual Clean Up event began with gatherings at just a handful of sites, most on or near bodies of water. But protecting watersheds begins far away from the water’s edge, he said.

“No matter where you are in Minneapolis, if a piece of trash goes down a storm drain it’s going to end up in one of our watersheds,” he said. “So, you can pick up trash in your streets and you’re going to help keep your watersheds clean.”

Downtown-area cleanup sites include:

• Father Hennepin Bluffs Park, 100 6th Ave. SE

• Loring Park, 1382 Willow St.

• Mill Ruins Park, 500 West River Parkway N (meet in parking lot)


North Loop Community Cleanup event

Residents in the North Loop are organizing a neighborhood cleanup event on April 25.

A flier posted on the North Loop Neighborhood Association website — — encourages residents to “band together as a neighborhood and clean our streets, parking lots and alleys.”

People are encouraged to team up with friends, co-workers or neighbors for the event.

For more information, e-mail


Run for the environment

Help raise money for future Clean Up days by joining in the Minneapolis Recycle Run on April 19.

Proceeds from the 5-kilometer run around Lake Harriet, now in its second year, support Clean Up efforts. The event is not timed, and participants can run or walk around the lake.

Participants were urged to bring used running shoes and shirts for recycling. Donors will be eligible for prizes.

Race day registration is 7:45 a.m.–8:45 a.m. at the Lake Harriet Band Shell, 4135 Lake Harriet Parkway. The cost is $30 for the 5-kilometer run and $15 for the kids’ half-mile run.

Prices are $25 and $10 for those who pre-register before noon on April 13. For more information, or to register online, visit and scroll down to the Minneapolis Recycle Run link at the bottom of the page.

— Michelle Bruch contributed to this report.