PARKERSBURG -More than 200 volunteers were expected to help clean up local waterways on Saturday during the 2011 Ohio River Sweep, officials said.
"We have a lot of families, 4-H clubs, individuals and boaters who have volunteered this year to help clean the river for everyone's enjoyment," said John Reed, director of the Wood County Solid Waste Authority.
One of the companies that had volunteers participate in the area effort was Hino Motors Manufacturing of Williamstown, which had several employees help at the Williamstown site at the Williamstown Boat Ramp.
Two kayakers clean debris from the stream at Corning Park in Parkersburg.
"(Participating in the River Sweep) goes beyond our involvement in the community," said Stephen Stalnaker, Hino general manager. "We are focused on the environment with our latest model and in the world.
"We all live here, so we all benefit from a clean river," he added.
Travis Cooper, the West Virginia coordinator for the Make It Shine program, was in Parkersburg at Corning Park with others from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
Emily Stoke, of Waverly, left, and Melanie Stephan, of Belpre, right, clean up trash from the rocks around the Ohio River at the Williamstown Boat Ramp on Saturday morning as part of the 2011 Ohio River Sweep. (Photo by Jolene Craig)
"We want to make the river resource a better place for everyone who uses it," Cooper said.
The annual cleanup involves more than 3,000 miles of Ohio River shoreline from Pennsylvania to Illinois. The River Sweep started in 1989 and is the longest-running river cleanup effort in the country.
Boater Bob Heim and his family have cleaned the river at Corning Park for at least the past 15 years from their watercraft.
"We do it because we use the river and we like it clean," he said. "We swim in it and so does our dog, so it benefits us to keep it as clean as possible."
Richa Bradford, secretary of the solid waste authority, said the Williamstown site had about 47 volunteers last year and she hoped this year would be as successful.
"Not only do people help on the riverbanks, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge cleaned up the water with their boat," she said. "You never know what you will run into or how much will be collected."
Reed said official numbers for how many volunteers participated locally as well as how much trash was collected will be available next week.
Last year, nearly 20,000 volunteers participated - including about 700 from the Mid-Ohio Valley - and collected around 10,000 tons of trash.
Site locations in Wood County were Corning Park and Williamstown Boat Landing in Williamstown. In Washington County, volunteers met at Civitan Park in Belpre to catch the ferry to Blennerhassett Island and at Devol's Dam in Devola.