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Sugar River cleanup a success
Stacks of tires, including some very old motorcycle tires, were pulled out of the Sugar River and Albany Wildlife Area. (Photo supplied)
ALBANY - The Lake Winnetka/Sugar River Improvement Association had 70 people come to help clean up the Sugar River during the association's annual Sugar River Cleanup May 18. This year's event marked the 19th year that the group has organized the river cleanup, which is registered as part of The American Rivers National River Cleanup and is held each year on the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend.

Volunteers began working the Little Sugar at Schneeberger Road and the Big Sugar from the County X bridge north of Attica Road. For the first time, the association was able to have volunteers on the river above Attica Road. The cleanup continued downstream to portions of Allen Creek by the confluence with the river then through the Albany Wildlife Area to the confluence of the Big and Little Sugar rivers and through Lake Winnetka. From there, volunteers cleaned the Albany Dam and continued working the river through Decatur Lake where some worked the Mill Race down to Putnam Park in Brodhead and others cleaned the Decatur Lake Dam and worked the river from there to Crazy Horse Campground just past the County F bridge. This also was the first time that the stretch of river from Decatur Lake to Crazy Horse was worked. A total of about 35 miles of river was cleaned, the most ever worked at a Sugar River Cleanup.

Work done by the volunteers depended on their abilities and the amount of time they had. Some volunteers got on the river in canoes, boats and kayaks with bags, gloves and long handle dip nets to retrieve trash caught up in branches and along the banks. Others stayed on land and cleaned up under bridges, along banks and on the Sugar River Trail.

Items that were cleaned up include beverage and food containers, expired shotgun shells, plastic bags, deer stand parts, styrofoam, about 20 tires, an oil pan, several garden hoses, a broken wheelbarrow, a bicycle rim, two televisions, clothing and shoes, broken lawn chairs, a bird feeder, shelving, some very old motorcycle tires, broken eyeglasses and a canoe seat.

Branch cutting and clearing was also done to make the waterway safer to navigate but without clearing the forest. A path is opened up in most tree snags so that a canoe or small boat can fit through safely and the cut branches are put on shore so that a jam of cut logs is not created. Some branch-cutting is done in the Little Sugar River so that people can paddle safely up to Reuben's Cave.

Some folks got out on the river downstream of the Albany dam and did some pre-cleanup work so volunteers only had to pick up their filled bags or clean their collected piles in certain areas.

The next event that the L.W.S.R.I.A. will be organizing will be the annual Carp Fishing Contest from Friday, Aug. 30 to Monday, Sept. 2. Prizes will be awarded for the most and the largest carp caught. Fishing can start on Friday and must be done in the Sugar River area above the Albany Dam.

The Lake Winnetka/Sugar River Improvement Association changed its membership requirements and is no longer part of a property owner's association on the river. To become a member, write to P.O. Box No. 348, Albany, WI 53502; email; or call 608-862-1698.

Next year's Sugar River Cleanup will start Saturday, May 17, 2014.