Nothing ruins a walk along the river like seeing trash strewn about. Trash left behind appears to be a serious and growing problem for anyone who spends time along the river.

Local fisherman have complained. "The amount of trash left in the rocks is sad." "People are leaving everything from dirty diapers to bait containers or tackle packaging."

In the area along the river, just below the dam, a popular fishing destination in Granite Falls, the problem is easily visible. Note the photo which is trash from just a small 5 by 5 ft area.

Community members are beginning to take action. On Saturday, August 10th at 11:30 a.m. a river clean up will take place in one of the most affected areas and popular fishing areas.

Those interested in helping are encouraged to meet at the entrance to the riverwalk which is located at the bottom of the parking area behind the popcorn stand.

The area targeted for clean up is from the rip rap rocks along the river from below the dam down to the K.K. berge building. Those interested should wear good shoes, and bring gloves. Participants are also urged to exercise caution while traversing the rip rap rock.

In the hopes of this clean up effort becoming a family affair, The YES! House will host an eco-friendly rock art activity for people of all ages to partake in.

Ashley Hanson, Director of the Department of Public Transformation and the Yes! House had this to say about the decision to become a part of the clean up effort, "The YES! House is a firm believer in community action, creativity, and collaboration. We believe we can accomplish anything by showing up and working together. We are happy to partner on this riverside clean up and support our communities beautification and environmental efforts at all levels."

The hope is that this effort will grow into an effort in which multiple community based organizations and individuals wish to participate in whatever capacity they see fit. Watch for more details as the clean up date draws near.

Community organizations, local businesses and individuals wishing to contribute time or supplies to this clean up effort is asked to contact Nicole at 320.212.3945 or email prairiepaddler@gmail.com.

Jessica Gorman, Storefront Artist at the YES! House, added that, "From our future artist residencies upstairs the falls are visible from a window, from yet another window the river flows behind the K.K. Berge Gallery.” Adding that, “The river is important from every angle. We are grounded in a, 'start where you are, use what you have, do what you can,' philosophy and, with a smile adds, “we are PHDs at cleaning up messes and adding color."

This cleanup effort is a temporary solution to a problem that seems to increase year after year. Calling attention to this issue comes with it the hope of more permanent solutions.

Such things could include signage in the area to promote awareness of the issue and that warns against littering. An increased number of trash cans and the addition of a recycling receptacle within this heavily utilized area along the river would also aid in helping people to keep the area clean.

It could be possible that with new light shed on this issue and a strong showing of public support that this popular fishing destination and gathering space along the Minnesota River be restored to a condition that is much better than its present.