By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer
With the Mississippi River essentially located in Clinton’s backyard, it can easily be taken for granted.
It may not be predictable and sometimes it can be extremely dangerous, but it is one of the most important natural resources in the United States.
One organization has been working for 15 years to keep the Mississippi as clean and reliable as possible, and it all started with one man’s dedication.
“Chad Pregracke was 23 when he started (Living Lands and Waters) by going out in one little boat and cleaning stuff up,” Living Lands and Waters Educational Facilitator Mike Coyne-Logan said.
After receiving some local and national press, the non-profit organization has now grown to more than 70,000 volunteers working in 18 states, removing more than 7 million pounds of garbage from 22 different rivers.
Although the group works with other rivers in the Midwest, the Mississippi is still the main focal point of its mission.
“We work from Minneapolis to New Orleans on a barge that we live on seven months out of the year,” Coyne-Logan said. “From that barge we take smaller boats to go out and collect the garbage.”
The types of garbage that LL&W picks up is not the everyday soda cans and potato chip bags, but things like refrigerators, dishwashers and full-sized cars.
There are currently 12 people employed with LL&W, so the organization relies heavily on strong volunteer efforts.
“We depend a lot on our volunteers,” Coyne-Logan said. “During the spring and summer we recruit college students and we’ll do at least 70 big clean-up projects a year.”
Coyne-Logan understands the importance of keeping the river clean so he and other LL&W staff members are working to educate people all over the area.