This past fall, an army of volunteers and their 4X4 trucks added some machine muscle to the cleanup of a debris-laden former dump along the Minnesota River near Belle Plaine.
Volunteers from the Minnesota 4-Wheel Drive Association unload tires from a 2 1/2-ton military truck.
The Minnesota 4-Wheel Drive Association teamed up with the DNR Adopt-a-River Program to clean up debris left by an abandoned auto-parts junkyard. One day this past October, 48 club members brought their trucks, trailers, and skid loaders to the site. Many of their machines had electric winches, which came in handy for pulling heavy objects out of river silt. The club hauled out more than 100,000 pounds of auto and truck scrap metal and junk, as well as fuel-oil tanks and a fiberglass boat embedded in almost a foot of silt. The junk filled 16 dumpsters. The club also removed 600 tires that had been partially buried; the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District took possession of the tires and will dispose of them.
In the future, this site will be restored as wildlife habitat and managed as a unit of the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area. But more cleanup efforts will be needed first. DNR Adopt-a-River coordinator Paul Nordell encourages groups interested in helping with the cleanup to email or call 651-259-5630.
Gustave Axelson, managing editor