Iowa Project AWARE brings Raccoon’s sunken junk to mind

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The 18th annual flotilla of Iowa Project AWARE (A Watershed Awareness River Expedition) arrived in Perry in the early afternoon Wednesday, landing at the Perry access to the North Raccoon River with canoes laden from a day spent cleaning trash out of the river.

Iowa Project AWARE moves to a different Iowa river each year, removing debris that in some cases has lain in the waterway for decades. Each day’s yield of trash is unloaded from the canoes and sorted into recyclables and disposables.

This year’s flotilla started Sunday, July 11 at the Whiterock Conservancy River Campground in Coon Rapids. Monday took the paddlers 8.2 miles from the Henderson Park Access in Jefferson to the Squirrel Hollow Access in Jefferson, with volunteers removing some large items from the river, including washers and dryers and tractor tires.

Tuesday brought the cleaning paddlers from Squirrel Hollow to the Dawson Access, with overnight camping at Springbrook State Park near Guthrie Center, and Wednesday brought the group to Perry.

The Project AWARE volunteers will camp Wednesday night at Hanging Rock in Redfield, where they will enjoy the music of Dakota flautist Bryan Akipa, winner of several Native American Music Awards. The Grammy-nominated artist was also a featured presenter at the Dallas County Conservation Board’s annual Prairie Awakening Celebrations.

Akipa will perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Hanging Rock in Redfield. The public is invited to attend this free evening concert, sponsored by the Dallas County Conservation Board.

Thursday will take the cleaning canoers from the Redfield Access to the Earlham Bridge Access, with camping at the Van Meter American Legion Post, and Friday will progress from Earlham to the Van Meter Access.

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