Lake County volunteers need help preserving Des Plaines River
BY KATLYN SMITH email@example.com September 3, 2013 2:47PM
Paul Klonowski paddles up river from teh canoe launcn at Independence Grove, Libertyville,Il. A group of volunteers clean up the Des Plaines River. On an irreglar basis, they meet at the Independence Grove canoe launch hop into their canoe and paddle to the cleanup spot. Today They will paddle upstream to a log jam where they will remove debris, August 28, 2013. | Joe Cyganowski-For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 3, 2013 1:36AM
Part of a 1950’s-era BMW. A Chicago Sun-Times vending machine. Wagon wheels.
They are among the larger items hauled from what some see as a dumping site: the Des Plaines River.
A group of volunteers with ties to the Lake County Forest Preserve are working to maintain the river — all 31 miles of it.
“There’s something inside you that when you’ve got that much natural beauty, you ought to keep it,” says Larry Linden, a retired Lincolnshire man and one of the forest preserve’s site stewards.
The group doesn’t have a set schedule, but volunteers can spend as many as 10 hours in one day hauling debris. They’ve plucked more than 100 tires just this year.
They also clear log jams, sometimes caused by felled trees in storms, for safe passageways for canoeists and kayakers.
On Saturday, Sept. 14, they’ll join a broader effort spanning Lake and Cook counties. The Illinois Paddling Council and OpenLands are looking for volunteers to walk shorelines or float in canoes to clean up the river, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Along the banks of the Des Plaines ahead of the third annual event, Paul Klonowski says he started recruiting volunteers about five years ago.
His activism sprouted from his high school years, when he would spot signs near Salt Creek, a major tributary of the river, warning the public to contact the health department if someone came into contact with the contaminated water.
It was a sharp contrast from his summers in Canada canoeing in pristine — and drinkable — waters.
“That always sat with me,” said the Gurnee man, who’s earned an award for his work from the River Network, a coalition of grassroots organizations across the country.
Klonowski, who works in the medical devices industry, paraphrased Dr. Seuss to explain what motivates him to preserve rivers.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better,” he said.
For more information about the forest preserve’s site stewards, visit lcfpd.org.
Details about the cleanup Saturday are available at illinoispaddling.com.