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99 bottles of beer in the ditch


Fri, Apr 6th, 2007
Posted in Commentary



Ahhh...must be spring in the Root River Valley...flood warnings, chocolate brown water cascading over the Lanesboro Dam, and beer cans leaving a trail in the ditch as if I were Gretel following them home. And by the way, on my last count the actual number was 256 beer cans, pop bottles, plastic bags, paper, and Styrofoam containers in the ditch. Now I realize that the snow has just gone out and there has always been the understanding that melting snow reveals a treasure trove of items. But folks, we only had snow for about two months - surly, not enough time to trap that much junk under the snow and why is it that we expect any litter to begin with?

When I conclude most of my classes at Eagle Bluff, I like to end with a short discussion on what we as individuals and as a society can do in regard to whatever topic we have just covered...how to maintain healthy animal populations, how to ensure water quality, how to reduce waste. Inevitably, a child will always say "Don't litter" whether truly relevant to the topic or not. I really can't blame them because "don't litter" is the message that has been told to us since the days of Woodsy Owl. Anti-littering slogans are the longest running environmental messages ever. "Give a hoot, don't pollute." "Don't mess with Texas." Iron Eyes Cody, the "Crying Indian" It's obvious that we all know what to do with our garbage, right. Right?

According to statistics from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, 55% of littering is done intentionally with the other 45% blowing out of our vehicles as we drive. Cigarette butts and plastic bags are the most littered items; however, food and beverage packaging as a whole accounts for 51% of all roadside litter. Even though cigarette butts seem like just paper and tobacco, according to the same research, it takes up to five years for that cigarette butt to decompose and another 495 for an aluminum can. http://www.dot.state.mn.us/adopt/facts.html

The message I get from these statistics, however, is there is no blame to be placed solely on smokers or shoppers or people who love fast food. What the statistics reinforce is that we all cannot be complacent. There is still relevance to those messages we have heard so long. Summer is fast approaching, and this past summer was the first summer it seemed we saw tourists blatantly littering and behaving poorly on the river; however, we all have a part to play in keeping clean the places that we love, earn our living from, and raise our families in. Shouldn't we, the residents of Fillmore County, be the example of how to treat our land and rivers if we expect the visitors to this area to treat it any better.

Root River Earth Day Fest

The City of Lanesboro, Root River Outfitters, Little River General Store, DNR Area Fisheries, Eagle Bluff and many other partners are sponsoring the First Annual Root River Earth Day Fest on Saturday, April 28th. This FREE multi-age event will feature service sessions like Geocaching for Trash, River Canoe Clean-up, Buckthorn Busting, and Tree Planting. All equipment including gloves, bags and canoes will be provided. An activity fair will also be held in the Community Center with activities like meeting live Raptors, power plant tours with free CFL light bulb giveaway, farmer's market sampler, book exchange, Ask-an-Arctic-Explorer plus much more! You can also bring your small appliances, cell phones, ink cartridges to the softball fields for disposal. Household hazardous waste like paint and oil can be disposed of for free at the Fillmore County Resource Recovery Center on May 1st. If you would like to find out what you can do April 28th, please visit our website at www.eagle-bluff.org/earthday.html.

Sara Sturgis is the Education Director at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center in Lanesboro.

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