river cleanup canoeEven though we are all social distancing these days, you can still do your part to protect the Huron River by holding your very own River Cleanup!

Picking up trash in the river and along the shore helps keep the Huron and its tributaries healthy and safe for people and wildlife. You can do a river cleanup either on the water or from the shore. Head out and spend an afternoon on the river – trash bag in hand!

DIY River Cleanups (organize your own)

Cleanups on the water

If you have your own watercraft – like a kayak or canoe – you can pick up floating trash, debris caught in fallen trees, and items washed up along the shore. When conducting a clean-up from a boat, plan your route ahead of time. Pick a section of river that you are comfortable navigating; investigate put in and take out locations that you can access via public parking areas, look for bathrooms and other resources you might need for an afternoon on the water. Plan your time accordingly: your cleanup outing will take longer than your usual afternoon paddle because you will be hunting for trash along the way!

Safety first! Always wear a personal floatation device (PFD) when you’re on the water. Avoid going out on the river after heavy rains; high and/or fast water can be hazardous to you and your boat. Fast river currents also make working conditions difficult. Always send a paddle plan to a friend – make sure someone knows where you’re going and how long you plan to be gone. Call them before you go out and when you get safely back to shore.

Personal gear

  • Watercraft (canoe, kayak, paddle boat)
  • Lifejacket
  • Phone
  • First aid kit
  • Weather appropriate layers
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Water and snacks

Clean-up gear

  • Gloves (that you don’t mind getting dirty)
  • Heavy duty trash bags
  • Hand sanitizer

Optional

  • Polarized sunglasses, great for seeing through the water
  • Camera (or use your phone to take pictures of your clean-up!)

General safety guidelines

  • Call 911 if you experience an emergency in the field.
  • Do not enter or wade in fast moving water that could sweep you off your feet. When in doubt, don’t get in the water.
  • Avoid working on the river after heavy rains.
  • Always let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to be back.

Do not pick up!

  • Dead animals.
  • Items that are too heavy for you to move; use caution when picking up sharp objects like metal or glass.
  • Hazardous waste, including needles or suspicious containers. Contact your local police or sheriff department if you come across concerning items.

Cleanups from the shore

litter in creekYou can conduct a river cleanup from the shoreline either by picking up trash along the bank or by wading in shallow water. When working from the shore be mindful of private property. Only work on private property if you have the expressed permission of the landowner, otherwise, stick to cleanups in riverside parks and other public access areas. Be mindful of traffic along roadsides; don’t work in areas where the speed limit is over 30 mph or anywhere that you feel is unsafe. If working alongside a road, make sure to wear bright and reflective gear.

If you’re wading in the river to pick up trash, wear waders or thick pants and closed toed shoes to protect yourself from sharp objects in the water. Never wade in fast moving water that can sweep you off your feet and be mindful of slow-moving streams that are deep; even calm water can be dangerous. Use your best judgment. If river conditions make you feel unsafe, don’t go in the water!

Personal gear

  • Long pants and closed toed shoes
  • Waders (if you have them and plan to do some wading)
  • Weather appropriate layers
  • Phone
  • First aid kit
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Water and snacks

Clean-up gear

  • Gloves (that you don’t mind getting dirty)
  • Heavy duty trash bags
  • Hand sanitizer

Optional

  • Polarized sunglasses are great for seeing through the water
  • Camera (or use your phone to take pictures of your cleanup!)

General safety guidelines

  • Call 911 if you experience an emergency in the field.
  • Do not enter or wade in fast moving water that could sweep you off your feet. When in doubt, don’t get in the water.
  • Avoid working on the river after heavy rains.
  • Always let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to be back.

Do not pick up!

  • Dead animals.
  • Items that are too heavy for you to move; use caution when picking up sharp objects like metal or glass.
  • Hazardous waste, including needles or suspicious containers. Contact your local police or sheriff department if you come across concerning items.

Share your cleanup story with HRWC!

Debris removed from Huron RiverSend photos or videos of your clean-up adventures! ~ We love before and after pictures of particularly “trashy” areas that you helped rejuvenate as well as images of unusual things you pulled from the river. Include pictures of you and your helpers. Tell us how much trash you collected and how many hours you volunteered. We want to showcase your efforts!

Share your clean-up adventure on social media and tag HRWC in your posts! (#HuronRiver #TrashTag #HuronRiverDIY)

Please contact us to report particularly trashy areas or items that are too big or heavy to move. Also let us know about large woody debris, logjams, or other paddling hazards that you came across while out on the water (if you’re interested in helping HRWC deal with these larger issues, read more about our large woody debris program, below).

Group Cleanup Events

All group cleanups are currently on hold due to social distancing restrictions. If you’re interested in being part of a river cleanup event in the future hosted by HRWC or one of our partners, sign up to volunteer and receive notifications about upcoming cleanups.

Watercraft availability for in-river cleanups depends on the event host.* Some events provide canoes for free, others have watercraft available for a small fee, and some events require you to bring your own watercraft.

*Host sponsors: HRWC, DEQ, City of Ann Arbor Give 365, Ann Arbor Trout Unlimited, Huron River Fly Fishing Club, Schultz Outfitters, Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, Skips Canoe Livery, and Toyota.

For information about your group joining a cleanup, email us here.

Woody Debris Management Program

Keep the river safe for paddlers while maintaining a healthy and natural river ecosystem through our Woody Debris Management Program.

While many believe that logjams are a significant problem in urban rivers and should be removed, large woody debris are a natural part of the river’s system. They help reduce erosion, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and create important changing conditions to the way the river flows.

Woody Debris Management (WDM) is the process of deciding whether to remove, relocate, or add woody debris to a river reach while minimizing impact to the surrounding ecosystem. This Clean and Open Method of Woody Debris Management guide covers the basics on how to manage logjams, shares the benefits they provide to habitats and how to minimize the problems (and dangers) they can create for paddlers and other river-recreationists.

While we currently do not have any woody debris management training workshops scheduled, please contact Jason if you would like to be involved in this project in the future. Either email Jason or call (734) 769-5123 x600.

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with us, email us.