Water isn’t the only thing flowing through Winona’s Shives Creek.
During a Revive Shives Creek cleanup Saturday, volunteers found everything from bed frames to bikes to baby strollers to car bumpers in the small strip of water.
The cleanup, organized by Clean Winona, a collaboration of Saint Mary’s University, Winona State University, North Point Supply, Winona Mechanical, Miller Scrap and the Izaak Walton League, involved more than 50 volunteers canoeing, kayaking and repelling around the creek to clear out the tainted waters.
“What I like most about this event is the collaboration,” said event organizer and SMU professor Joe Tadie. “This brings together a dream of mine to bring together a WSU and SMU collaboration and engage with the local community.”
Students from recreation and tourism to public relations and business joined in the service event.
“It’s crazy how something so small can have such a big impact,” said WSU junior Lizzie Bartow.
While many volunteers rummaged through the outskirts of the creek, others flocked to the action part of the event. Many students rushed for the canoes and kayaks supplied by SMU while others headed for the harnesses and ropes to attempt repelling down steeper sides of the creek.
“We’re using the power of fun to get people to be good stewards of the land,” said WSU Recreation, Tourism and Therapeutic Recreation instructor Eric Barnard. “Once we begin to see public lands as our own we’re able to do things like this and advocate and fight for them,” he said.
Repellers hooked up to minivan bumpers and canoers paddling around the muddy waters spent roughly three hours spanning the length of the creek, which runs along Shives Road and feeds into Lake Winona.
“Winona is a beautiful place, and I’d like to keep it that way,” said WSU sophomore Connor Halloran.
But students weren’t the only ones getting in on the fun. Families and businessmen donning bright yellow mesh vests traipsed through the wooded sidelines, gathering trash, car bumpers, tires and scrap metal from behind the trees.
“I wanted to do something like this with the kids and show them how important something like this is,” said volunteer Dustin Hoffman, who brought along his brother, sister-in-law and two nephews from Green Bay, Wis.
Winona residents, including Mayor Jerry Miller spent time recalling memories of times when the creek flourished.
Shives Creek, also known as Winona County Ditch No. 4, was originally built in 1930 as an outlet for Lake Winona. Despite its industrial and municipal uses, the creek was often used for recreation by many in the area.
Gerry Modjeski of Winona Mechanical recalls spending his afternoons fishing for northern pike in the creek and hunting in the swampland nearby.
“This is just a good start,” he said. “We want this to be deep enough to fish again so students and the community can come out here and enjoy it.”
As the cleanup neared its end, the current slowly carried canoes downstream, the unsightly debris of TVs and tires lifted from their path.