The following is a “guest article” contribution to the IWTA about how anyone can help create a more positive culture on the river and focusing on how to politely get would-be litterers to take and use a Keep It Clean /Keep It Fun mesh litter bag! A brief description of the Iowa DNR campaign will follow the article.
” I started paddling at a young age in Ohio and fell in love with rivers. Living in Iowa, I started working at Sea-ta-Sea Watersports in 2007. I was doing kayak demonstrations, sales and volunteering as a kayaker for local triathlons. Now I work with Eric at Up a Creek in Central City doing pretty much the same thing.
We started Backwater Paddlers right after Sea-ta-Sea closed down. We were meeting so many people on the river and our group has now grown to over 700 followers. People appreciate that we let the river determine when and where we are going to paddle every Sunday, usually starting in April every year.
We post on Facebook where and what time we are going and people show up.
I started speaking at Paddle Day at Indian Creek and I met up with Todd Robertson from the Iowa DNR. He had these amazing blue Keep it Clean, Keep it Fun bags that we could tether to our outside rigging on our kayaks so we didn’t have to bring yuck into our boats. I have used the same bag over and over again for cans and bottles and other trash.
At the start of every event when we have new paddlers to the group, I offer them a blue bag and show them how to use it. I also give them to fisherman, tubers and others enjoying our rivers to keep the garbage out of our waterways.
Last year I started a fund with all the cans we collect. We just sent our first check into Iowa Rivers Revival. I chose this nonprofit group because our watersheds are being neglected and underfunded by our state. Our water is one of our greatest resources we have here in Iowa to promote a lifestyle and tourism. IRR works endlessly on keeping our watersheds clean. Making that small effort every time we paddle helps to keep our water ways cleaner. ”
Keep It Clean! Keep It Fun!
The campaign goal: To improve behavior on Iowa’s rivers and lakes. An Iowa DNR public relations campaign to improve that behavior called Keep It Clean, Keep It Fun, was initiated on a limited scale in 2013.
“We want people to have fun on the river, but not at the expense of others, ” says Nate Hoogeveen, director of the Iowa DNR’s river programs.
The message is simple:
Keep It Clean. Pick up trash as you go and pack out the trash you bring in.
Keep It Fun. Use respectful language and behavior.
For Everyone! Respect private property.
“More and more livery businesses are handing out litter bags to all of their customers who go out to enjoy a day on the river”, says Todd Robertson, outreach coordinator for rivers programs at the Iowa DNR. “To see anglers and boaters wanting one for their tackle boxes and boats is so awesome, it really makes a difference.”
Later in 2019 there will be many County Conservation Boards and more retail stores stocking bags that can be picked up for free on a limited basis. Bait stores across the state will also be stocking a few.
For now, you can email email@example.com and request a bag starting now and either pick it up at the Iowa DNR in Des Moines or it can be mailed to you.