Friends of Sugar Creek held the 2019 Fall Creek Cleanup on Sept. 7. It was a beautiful day. Thirty-three strong armed, enthusiastic volunteers and board members gathered at 9 a.m. at the Old Coke Plant launch on Lafayette Road. Having so many volunteers allowed us to divide our forces and cover almost ten miles of creek.
Board member Mike Fons led our first group of volunteers in the area around the Sugar Creek Nature Trail and Elston ball diamonds. Unofficially called the “Fons’s stretch,” this stretch is perfect for families with kids because they can walk the banks and trails to burn their energy. Our second group--six volunteers led by board member Doug Calisch — launched three canoes and a kayak at the Old Coke Plant and floated the four-mile stretch to the Trestle Bridge Park just off Rock Ridge Road. Our third group, consisting of board stalwart, David Hadley, and five volunteers, launched out in three canoes from the Trestle Bridge Park and cleaned the two-mile stretch from the Park to Yountsville Mill. They completed their section and then continued on to the Bachner Preserve on Offield Road to take out. David was happy to do some fly fishing during the second half of his float. I don’t remember asking if he caught any fish but given his keen eye and his love of the sport, I wouldn’t be surprised. The final, 2.5 mile stretch from Yountsville Mill to the Bachner Preserve was scoured by board member Mark Elrod and five volunteers. When their work was done, volunteers from the first two groups gathered under the shade trees at the Trestle Bridge Park for lunch. They enjoyed deli sandwiches, potato salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, and brownies served by board members Sue Fain and Austin Brooks.
This was the first year since I’ve been executive director that we conducted a cleanup all the way to the Bachner Preserve. Members of the two groups that did the farther two stretches had a long way to carry their canoes and the trash they had collected. There was some heavy lifting to be done on difficult trails. Mark has been trying to figure out a way to transport trash from this take-out so it doesn’t have to be hand-carried to the parking lot. Before the next cleanup, I’m confident he will be ready. These volunteers were definitely eager for a break and some lunch. And Ed Fain and I had it ready for them when they emerged with their canoes and their haul of trash.
The volunteers’ hard work netted over a dozen tires, a rusted bicycle, a fence post, metal debris, floor mats, plastic chairs, and even an old washing machine. With the number of volunteers to help, and our wonderful fleet of canoes and the trailer we purchased last year, we scoured that creek and got a ton of trash. Well, almost, as a fisherman would say. And I can’t end without a tip of my hat to several volunteers from NICHES Land Trust who spent the following Saturday cleaning from Bachner Preserve to Jim Davis Bridge. It was a good week on the Creek!
Please join us in the future for our Spring or Fall cleanups held in April and September. Consider organizing a group of coworkers, classmates, or family members. Be a part of this rewarding experience of keeping our beautiful Sugar Creek pristine. You can sign up and find information about all of our events at www.friendsofsugarcreek.org.
I would like to thank all of our volunteers and board members for spending their valuable time to be true Friends of Sugar Creek. Also, I must thank the following for their generosity and community spirit: Hoosier Heartland Bank and Tipmont REMC for grant giving last year which allowed for the purchase of our fleet of canoes. West Central Solid Waste for providing T-shirts, lunch and supplies for our 2019 cleanups. Crawfordsville Park and Recreation for providing the trash dump trailer. And, finally, Wabash College for providing 13 enthusiastic volunteers. Thank you all!
Cindy L. Woodall is the executive director of Friends of Sugar Creek