LIMA — With Earth Day observed this past Tuesday, area residents were showing some love to this portion of the planet Saturday.
Anyone enjoying Lima’s Ottawa River Walk during the morning hours would have probably seen volunteers walking along the river banks collecting trash as part of the annual Ottawa River Clean Up, sponsored by the city of Lima, Lima-Allen County Neighborhoods in Partnership, the Ottawa River Coalition and Keep Allen County Beautiful. For event organizer, Connie Miller, this 21-year-old initiative has helped to rejuvenate one of Lima’s natural resources.
“The river really is an asset to the community,” she said. “For many years, people really didn’t view it that way. But it’s a great recreational area. David Harris from Trinity United Methodist even showed us pictures of the fish he caught in the river yesterday. There are a great variety of fish in the river, even in the city.”
With the event bringing out an average of 300 volunteers every year, Miller said it is a great chance for people to give back to the community, even in a seemingly small way.
“It’s a great event for people to come out and volunteer,” she said. “If you’ve never been down there, check it out. There is all kinds of wildlife down there, like turtles, fish, birds and even snakes, if you like them.”
For volunteer J.R. Riestenberg, assisting in the cleanup allows her to continue to enjoy what the River Walk has to offer.
“I enjoy the bike path and Simmons Field,” she said. “I just enjoy the outdoors.”
Riestenberg worked along South Shore Drive along with other members of her neighborhood association.
“We take care of this little strip of the river here,” she said. “If we don’t take care of where we’re at, nobody else is going to.”
She and other volunteers, including David Adams, have made some interesting discoveries during previous cleanups.
“We once found a pistol out here,” Adams said.
“There was a snake that came up out of this area that was huge,” Riestenberg said.
“It was probably a 12- or 14-inch garter snake,” volunteer Jerry “Pickle” Felter said. “But that’s not what she saw.”
Lima’s Earth Awareness Day also featured live music, speakers, informational booths and children’s activities at the Faurot Park Pavilion. Information on whole foods, composting techniques, conservation and promotion of natural ecosystems was presented, along with music from the Liberty Arts Magnet choirs, Mad River Dulcimers, Captain Jackpot and others.
Grand Lake St. Marys State Park also held its annual Lake Cleanup Day on Saturday, challenging volunteers to clean up areas of shoreline not easily accessible. Fishing and hunting boats were also used to assist in the cleanup efforts, along with people on foot in hip boots and waders. The event was hosted by the Wabash Watershed Alliance.
Riestenberg encouraged everyone to chip in with keeping the river and other areas clean.
“It’s something that everyone can do,” she said. “Little kids can do it. I always end up with a little case of poison ivy doing this, but as long as it’s a little case, I can live with it.”