About the author:

Tanya Stella is director of events for the Ohio Canal Corridor. Stella can be reached at 216.520.1825 or by e-mail at [email protected]. Photos were provided by Jen Sisson.

RiverSweep recently stormed into its nineteenth year with a clear sense of momentum. In 2007, Ohio’s largest environmental cleanup saw major improvements and an expansion of areas. As the nonprofit Ohio Canal Corridor (OCC) planned for its 2008 event, staff set big goals and spent extra time and effort courting involvement from volunteer groups, members of the business community and concerned citizens.

The OCC welcomed nearly 1,000 volunteers who were responsible for removing 801 illegally dumped tires and more than 30 tons of trash.

Participants & Sponsors

The weather was picture-perfect for volunteers who gathered in Cleveland neighborhoods such as Ohio City, Tremont, the Flats, Old Brooklyn, Stockyards, Parma and Slavic Village, Ohio. For the third straight year, Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School had a strong showing, with more than 250 students working in Tremont and the Flats. They were joined by a growing student response from other local high schools. Girl Scout troops and alumni clubs also participated in RiverSweep’s cleanup effort. One avid kayaker loaded his kayak up with garbage bags and cleaned the banks of the Cuyahoga River from within.

In 2008, the OCC welcomed the sponsorship and participation of many organizations, including Ford Motor Co., Cargill Deicing, ArcelorMittal, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and Stein Cos. These sponsors do more than just write checks; they get involved and dirty. Each sponsor brings groups of employees and families to cleanup sites, helps serve lunch and provides trucks and staff to shuttle tires to pickup areas.

Success Stories

The goal of RiverSweep is not only to clean up area neighborhoods but also to prepare them for new parks and Towpath connector trails. Many past cleanup sites have already become parkland. A prime example is the Cleveland Metroparks’ Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation, an early cleanup site that now houses 4.4 miles of watered canal, wildlife management areas, fishing and a 7.2-mile all-purpose trail. The reservation boasts more than 500,000 visitors annually.

For more information about OCC programs and events, visit www.ohiocanal.org.

About the Author

Tanya Stella