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After Project AWARE, look local for conservation efforts

By Ellis Codjoe, August 09, 2016

This July, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources completed Project AWARE.

The monumental cleanup effort focused on a section of the Lower Des Moines River from Wapello County to Lee County.

According to information from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, volunteers cleared 80,062 pounds of garbage and debris from a 52-mile stretch of the river during the week of July 11 through the 15.

61,422 pounds (or 77%) of the total debris collected was recycled afterwards.

The cleanup effort was much-needed, as it removed the danger of having thousands and thousands of pounds of tires, recyclables, hazardous waste, trash, and assorted metal floating around in the river.

But Iowans can look closer to home for additional conservation projects.

At the Pioneer Ridge Nature Area in Wapello County, for example, volunteers are always needed.

“We wouldn’t turn them down,” Naturalist Annette Whitrock says of volunteers opportunities at the center.

“If someone wants to volunteer, we’d want them to do conservation,” she adds.

Whitrock says Nature Area officials typically assign volunteer tasks based on personal preferences and skills.

A volunteer at Pioneer Ridge might work with native plants, complete field work, or work on land management, for example.

Whitrock says individuals can simply call the Wapello County Conservation Board at 641-682-3091 for volunteer opportunities.

For more information about Pioneer Ridge Nature Area, visit

For more information about Project AWARE, visit


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