ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Residents along the Rock River are being challenged to help keep the waterways clean. The effort will award the person who collects the most garbage but organizers say the real prize is a clean environment.

With temperatures up and more people out and about, the Rock River is seeing an increase in traffic on the water and along the shore. Sometimes more people means more litter.

“I think it makes people feel good to clean up,” explained Rock River Trail Coordinator Therese Oldenburg. “Eventually it’s going to end up in the Mississippi River and on to the Gulf of Mexico and the ocean, so we want to stop it where we can right here.”

Oldenburg launched the ‘Rock River Basin Ball Litter Haul’ challenge, asking community members along all 320 miles of the river to collect trash–logging what they find using the ‘Litterati‘ app.

“I call it like pick it and click it. You just take a picture real quick of the item and it will register where it was located and what actually the item was,” Oldenburg added.

The challenge runs now until June 28th. Residents that collect the most litter will win a gift card–but Oldenburg says everyone will enjoy the prize of a clean watershed.

“I come down to the river you know just to have a good time, and sometimes to fish and to just clear my mind,” one resident, Clinton Lockhart said.

Lockhart enjoys watching wildlife on the Rock River and thinks the litter challenge is a great way to keep animals safe.

“We have deer, we’ve got ducks and stuff that be all around here that you know swim all the time, so it’ll be good to keep everything safe for everybody,” Lockhart added.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the campaign, participants are asked to practice social distancing and to wear a mask when picking up trash. You can share photos of yourself taking part in the challenge using #MasksOnLitterGone


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