Reviving and reimagining Service Squad river cleanups

posted by Guest Blogger on Thursday, July 7, 2022

Canoes on creek People love to be on the water. Communities across Iowa are just beginning to realize that our rivers and streams are irreplaceable natural resources that can serve as a tool of economic development and talent retention and attraction.

Rivers and streams also are a place that can bring cities and towns together to connect and share the love of a safe, family-friendly experience on the water. Usership of water trails has skyrocketed in recent years, and it's more important than ever to have clean water that people can enjoy safely, whether on a kayak, canoe, paddleboard or tube. That’s why Iowa Rivers Revival (IRR) has relaunched our Service Squad program to help plan and support river cleanups each year across the state. Couple by canoe full of trash

We held our first post-pandemic river cleanup in Marion at Thomas Park on June 11th of this year, where we helped clean up Indian Creek. Volunteers removed over 20 bags of trash and other debris and hazardous materials from the stream. This event was our inaugural Clean Creek Festival and was a volunteer-led event supported by IRR and our partners and sponsors, including Green State Bank who helped cover the cost of two local food trucks, Moy’s Food Truck and Kona Ice, for all attendees and volunteers. 

We had 10 partners, including Linn County Conservation, Trees Forever, the City of Marion, Marion Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Cedar Rapids, and over 100 volunteers attended this family-friendly event. The cleanup featured three opportunities to kayak down the stream from a launch point for folks to participate in the stream-based cleanup. Volunteers with small children hiked along the park trail to pick up trash in and around the park and surrounding area. 

Tabling at eventAfter the cleanup, volunteers and participants could engage with 12 educational booths on water quality including Wings2Water, Water Rocks, Conservation Station, and the Save our Streams program with the Izaak Walton League which helped analyze the health of the stream (very healthy!).

It’s important to not only make these events accessible to all age groups, but to give people the opportunity to learn about the importance of clean water and how they can step up to give back in their own communities. IRR is proud to provide avenues to advocate for support for river restoration best practices across the state. You can become a member today and sign up to receive our action alerts during the next legislative session at You can also follow us on Facebook at @iowariversrevivalInstagram at @iowariversrevival, and Twitter at @RiversIowa.Kayaking lessons

IRR plans to host and support several more cleanups across the state in 2022. If you’d like to join a river cleanup event or host your own with the support of IRR, you can contact me at

Upcoming river cleanup events: 

About the Author

Luke HoffmanLuke Hoffman is the Executive Director of Iowa Rivers Revival and a cycling enthusiast who loves Iowa's bike and water trails. He has a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) with an emphasis in Public Policy from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

  1. clean water
  2. member org
  3. water quality
  4. water recreation

About The Author

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