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Posted on: November 9, 2017

Coming together to renew our river culture

The Friends of the Souris River will host a get-together at the Blue Rider on Nov. 19 to allow attendees the opportunity to volunteer for a specific role with Friends of the Souris River, lending their skills to help the group plan and implement its activities for next year.

These outdoor activities will promote the river as a place for safe recreation. The event is open to the public and starts at 6 p.m. Food will be provided.

Friends of the Souris River is mostly known for its river clean-up initiatives. Last year the group partnered with the Resilience AmeriCorps VISTAs to organize four clean-ups. Altogether, more than 200 volunteers pulled more than 14 tons of trash from the river. This year the group has organized clean-ups on a smaller scale. In October, six volunteers gathered on Ward County land near 27th St. SE (behind the Holiday Village mobile home park). For the next four hours they removed fallen trees and trash from in and around the Souris River.

This particular clean-up site was chosen due to an accumulation of deadfall and trash, which formed dams in the river. Volunteers waded through the cool water, picking up a range of objects that had contributed to the formation of the dams including a volleyball, a patio chair, and a microwave. They used a loader to move heavy tree branches and tree trunks out of the river and onto the banks. When the work was done the volunteers had cleared two dams, collected 340 pounds of trash and debris, and restored a navigable pathway for anyone seeking to canoe or kayak through the oxbow.

“When I came out there that morning and saw these trash-ridden dams, I thought we were biting off way more than we could chew,” said Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA Colin Hendrickson. “But I knew I was working with truly determined people who will do what it takes to see this river restored. Sure enough, with just a few hours of hard work and some help from heavy machinery, an oxbow that was once dirty and impassable can now be kayaked or canoed through.”

While river clean-ups are labor intensive, they are a way for community members to take ownership of the river. Reducing water pollution helps to restore the natural habitat and make the river an enjoyable source of recreation for the community.  

The work of Friends of the Souris River extends beyond coordinating river clean-ups; the group also aims to inspire a renewed interest in the city’s river culture. Earlier this fall, Friends of the Souris River received a Community Wish List grant to fund the completion of a skating trail. The group intends to organize a hockey tournament and bonspiel once the trail is finished.

The group would like to plan other fun outdoor activities for 2018. If you are interested in becoming involved in Friends of the Souris River, please attend the get-together. With your help we can improve the community’s relationship to the Souris River.

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