Friends’ Annual River Cleanup Event Will Look Different

Monday, June 29, 2020 9:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The Friends of the Shiawassee River’s annual river cleanup will be held this summer with a new tagline of “Overcoming Obstacles to Care for the River” and a new look to boot!  This year will be the event’s 25th anniversary and will encourage small groups to participate in a more individualized effort anytime between July 25th – August 2nd - with an emphasis on long-term “adoption” of the river sections participants choose to clean.

Larry Johnson, Director of the Shiawassee County Health Department (SCHD) and Friends’ river cleanup advisor, was concerned about large groups of people together and the community gathering/eating at the end of the event. 

“The SCHD has been a river cleanup partner with the Friends for many years,” said Johnson.  “In this challenging time, in order to continue to practice safe, social distancing, the SCHD advised the Friends to find a new way to conduct this very important community get-together.”

With Johnson’s comments in mind, the Friends’ river cleanup committee came up with some exciting ideas about a modified event – where participants register online at the Friends’ website and are able to clean a self-selected section of the river over a period of time (anytime between July 25th and August 2nd) in groups they organize themselves.  Cleanup materials will be available for pickup to all registered participants at the Friends’ office THE WEEK BEFORE July 25th (trash bags, gloves, buckets, etc.). 

“Anyone interested will provide their name, contact information, and t-shirt size will check off a portion of the river they would be responsible for cleaning,” said Lorraine Austin, Friends’ Executive Director.  “We are particularly excited about growing this year’s event to include the concept of a modified ‘Adopt a River’ idea - whereby that section of the river participants clean would be “theirs” to care for throughout the year, not just for the cleanup event.” 

Participants will be urged to send photos and stories of their cleanup activities for the Friends’ Facebook page.  All who participated (and registered) will come to the Friends’ office after the event to pick up their complementary river cleanup t-shirt and coupon to a free lunch at Mancino’s.  Besides Mancino’s, the Friends’ are also thankful to other business event sponsors including Foster Coffee, J & S Tire, Oster Manufacturing, Matador’s Pizza, Hankerd Sportswear, VMD & Associates, and Waste Management.

Unfortunately, the SCHD will not be able to conduct the associated tire collection in conjunction with the river cleanup as in year’s past. 

“We will be in contact with all of the cleanup registrants to communicate how used tires and other items cleaned from the river,” said Gary Burk, Friends’ board member and river cleanup committee chair.  “The Friends will coordinate and assure all river debris removed will be promptly and properly recycled or disposed of.”

Anyone interested in participating in this year’s 25th annual river cleanup should visit the Friends’ website at or call 989.723.9062 to register no later than July 23rd.   Up-to-date information on this and other Friends’ endeavors may be found on their Facebook page at

The Friends of the Shiawassee River is a 501©3 nonprofit organization governed by a local board of directors and supported by a dedicated group of volunteers and generous donors.  The mission of the Friends is to help the community Care, Share, and Enjoy the Shiawassee River.  The Friends are committed to improving the river environment and promoting the responsible use of/enhancing the appreciation of the River throughout its watershed.                                                                        

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