Spring cleaning

16th Annual Earth Day Watershed Cleanup is April 17

Every spring in this city, sometime after the snow melts — usually — but before the lilacs bloom, comes the annual Earth Day Watershed Cleanup.

The cleanup used to take place where one might expect: along city’s lakeshores and the banks of the Mississippi River. On April 17, though, volunteers were scheduled to show up at almost 40 locations spread all over the city, some blocks away from the nearest body of water.


“No matter where you are, if a piece of trash goes down the storm drain on the street, it’s going to end up in one of the watersheds,” said Arik Rudolph of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

That’s the message organizers send each year when neighbors gather to pick up trash in their parks: Everyone has a role in protecting watersheds, no matter where they live.

Most Southwest neighborhoods are in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed, which includes the Chain of Lakes, but rainwater that falls on neighborhoods closer to Interstate 35W drains into the Mississippi River, according to a city watershed map. Most of Bryn Mawr lies in the Bassett Creek Watershed.

Julie Westerlund, education and communications manager for the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, said trash pick-up days like the Earth Day events “are critical mostly to the aesthetic enjoyment of our lakes.”

“The Minneapolis Chain of Lakes are the crown jewels of our community and they are so well used by so many of our watershed residents,” Westerlund said. “It’s real important that they look clean and they are free of that trash and debris that makes them unattractive and can actually interfere with wildlife habitat, as well.”

Many Minneapolis residents have taken that message to heart in recent years.

Back in 2000, about 1,350 volunteers at 10 cleanup sites collected more than 7,800 pounds of trash, the Park Board reported. Last year, about 3,000 volunteers collected more than 30,000 pounds of trash at 41 cleanup sites, the Park Board reported.

There were several fewer cleanup sites planned for this year’s event, but Rudolph, the Park Board’s district recreation coordinator, predicted a strong turnout, especially if the sun is shining.

“Help keep your parks clean, meet your neighbors [and] share in the experience,” Rudolph said.

Find your cleanup site

The 16th annual Earth Day Watershed Cleanup is 9:30 a.m.–noon April 17.

No pre-registration is required for individuals, and volunteers can sign up to help the day of the event on site. Large groups of 20 or more people were asked to contact Rudolph in advance at 230-6484.

The list below includes only cleanup sites in Southwest neighborhoods, but a complete list is available at minneapolis

— Bryn Mawr: J.D. Rivers Garden Picnic Site, Glenwood Avenue & Washburn Avenue North; and Theodore Wirth Park, 3200 Glenwood Ave. (Wirth Beach parking lot)

— Cedar-Isles-Dean: Cedar Lake, Cedar Lake Parkway & West 25th Street

— ECCO: Lake Calhoun, 3000 E. Calhoun Parkway

— Fulton: Pershing Park, 3523 W. 48th St.

— Kenny: Kenny Park, 1328 W. 58th St.

— Kenwood: Kenwood Park, 2101 Franklin Ave. W.

— Kingfield: Martin Luther King Park, 4055 Nicollet Ave. S.

— Linden Hills: Lake Harriet Band Shell, 4135 Lake Harriet Parkway

— Lynnhurst: Lynnhurst Park, 1345 W. Minnehaha Parkway

— Tangletown: Minnehaha Parkway, West Minnehaha Parkway & Lyndale Avenue South

— West Calhoun: Lake Calhoun, West Calhoun Parkway & West 32nd Street

Join the 5K Recycle Run

LINDEN HILLS — Earth Day activities in Minneapolis don’t end with the annual watershed cleanup.

Runners will gather early the next morning for the third annual Minneapolis Recycle Run around Lake Harriet. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board uses all proceeds from the 5-kilometer, non-competitive run and a half-mile run for children to support future Earth Day Watershed Cleanup events.

“As we continue to expand and try to pick up more of the city, and do more education, it really helps and allows us to expand,” said Arik Rudolph, Park Board district recreation coordinator.

Rudolph estimated the cost of a single Cleanup Day ranged from about $6,000 to “way over $10,000,” depending mostly on whom the Park Board brings in for educational activities at the various sites. That estimate would not account for Park Board staff time and materials costs, he added.

This year, runners were encouraged to donate used running shoes and T-shirts for a chance at prizes. The donated items will go to Wipers Recycling of Maplewood, which recycles old leather, rubber and cloth into products used for cleaning up oil and chemical spills.

Wipers Recycling President Patricia Gearin said still wearable shoes and clothing collected by her company were donated or sold in their thrift store.

Pre-register for the run online at minneapolisrecyclerun.com, or go to the website for instructions to register by mail.