Great Parks seeks volunteers for Ohio River cleanups

Great Parks is looking for volunteers to help with its upcoming Ohio River cleanups.

This year’s local Ohio River Sweep events are Saturday, March 23* near Woodland Mound on Old Kellogg Road and Saturday, July 13 at Fernbank Park, downriver and on the west side of Hamilton County.

The annual cleanups are a collaboration with the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, more commonly known as ORSANCO. The interstate commission represents a collection of states and the federal government that work together to keep the river and its banks clear from pollution and other debris.

For the Sweep, volunteers of every age are welcome to take part. However, any volunteer under 18 must have an adult with them.

“We’re looking forward to teaming up with our volunteers on a bit of spring cleaning for this beautiful, shared natural resource for the region,” said Joe Von Allmen, a volunteer engagement specialist with Great Parks.

Three decades of protecting local land, water

For more than 30 years, volunteers in the Ohio River Sweep have collected tens of thousands of pounds of litter, at sites from all six states that directly touch the waterway.

From March to October, participating organizations host individual events up and down the river at several different sites to assist with overall pollution mitigation.

One of those organizations has been Great Parks, which has placed an emphasis on conservation and a variety of green initiatives since its founding in 1930 as the Hamilton County Park District.

Today, Great Parks is the largest landholder in the county, with more than 18,000 acres. About 25 miles of its greenspace frontage on the region’s four major rivers – Great Miami, Little Miami, Whitewater and the Ohio. Even more of the organization’s sites sit on smaller tributaries, like the Mill Creek.

Von Allmen described each of the region’s rivers as crucial to the health of the plants and wildlife that either live there or rely on them for survival. However, despite enormous progress over the years, litter continues to be a problem, and washes into the Ohio River from its large watershed, he said.

As such, Von Allmen invited everyone interested in assisting with that mission to sign up for any number of Great Parks volunteer efforts, including the Ohio River Sweep.

Advance registration is requested at, to ensure enough cleaning supplies for everyone. The river bank areas will be muddy and especially rugged in some areas, Von Allmen said, so volunteers should dress accordingly.

“It is our duty as a park district to be leading the way in preserving these natural spaces, and it’s a great way to bring community members together for a great cause,” Von Allmen said.

Greater Parks Ohio River Sweep

*Great Park postponed the first Ohio River Sweep event from March 9 to March 23 due to inclement weather.

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