For second year, volunteers will tackle river trash

MANATEE — Ten-year-old Emma King, along with siblings Matt, 7, and Will, 4, climbed into a canoe last winter along with their parents, Joe and Sara, and joined about 40 other volunteers in boats to haul nearly a ton of trash out of the Braden River.

During Saturday’s second Winter Cleanup sponsored by the Old Braden River Historical Society, the Kings, who live along the river in River Forest, a few doors down from their family’s King Ranch, are going out again with roughly 50 volunteers.

They hope to collect less than the 1,855 pounds of trash they picked up last year. That would mean people have been more thoughtful about Manatee’s waterways during the past year, Sara King said.

“It’s amazing what is put in the river,” King said Thursday. “Last year, we saw a two-man kayak pick up a coffee table that they could barely balance it was so big. My daughter was excited to find a volleyball. We also found flip-flops, bottles, cans and plastic bags. We saw a man pull out a sleeping bag.”

Registration for the second Winter Cleanup begins with coffee and donuts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the King Ranch, 4630 60th St. E. The ranch is off Caruso Road, about a half-mile north of State Road 70.

The cleanup will run from 9 a.m. to noon and will be followed by a hot dog and baked bean lunch for the volunteers.

Volunteers are welcome to bring a canoe or kayak, but for those without, there are two canoes and four kayaks at the ranch, said Bob King, the retired founder of Manatee Eye Clinic, who is donating his ranch’s boat ramp as a launch and staging area for the event.

“I think this is a very, very, good project,” said King, whose son, Joe, is the architect and general contractor who created River Forest. “It’s terrific that people are willing to wade into the muck and gunk to pick up trash that others have thoughtlessly thrown out of their boats. We had a great crowd last year and I expect we will have a good turnout again. People have fun out there.”

If they are younger than 18, volunteers will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Volunteers are also asked to dress for possibly getting wet, with rubber boots or other appropriate footwear.

The Historical Society will provide long “grabbers” to pull garbage from the river and plastic gloves to wear.

Sleeping bags and coffee tables aren’t the worst that’s been pulled from the river, said Peggy Christ, a member of the society, whose mission is education and awareness about the history, ecology, beauty and utility of the Braden River.

“We’ve picked up a toilet with a fish in it,” Christ said. “We found a car. We found basketballs, wood and old tires. We would be thrilled if we could come back one year with absolutely nothing collected.”

This cleanup will be along the river between the dam south of State Road 70 and the Manatee River, Christ said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.