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Volunteers at Trout Park snag plenty of trash

ELGIN — “It’s a dirty job.”

These words, spoken by Sierra Club volunteer John Shattuck, described Saturday morning’s cleanup effort that he and about 30 other volunteers undertook at the city’s Trout Park.

Shattuck’s description was not born of cynicism but of truth — about 300 pounds of it. That’s about how much garbage was picked up by volunteers during the three-hour event, called the Fox River Clean Sweep and Streambank Clean Up.

State Rep. Keith Farnham, D-Elgin, and the Sierra Club Valley of the Fox Group hosted the event from 9 a.m. to noon.

Farnham had urged residents Thursday to come out and help with the cleanup. This is the second year Farnham has been involved with cleanup activities at Trout Park, on Elgin’s northeast side.

“This is my neighborhood, and I want to keep it clean,” Farnham said. “It’s a really beautiful park, and we want to keep it this way.”

He said he anticipated less garbage would be collected this year than last — a change he said is good. He said he thinks it means last year’s cleanup had significant impact.

Even with less garbage, there was still plenty to pick up.

Sierra Club clean-water advocate Cindy Skrukrud assisted volunteers with weighing the garbage, which included sorting out recyclables. Among pieces of paper, cans and bottles were some odd finds.

Shattuck said he found a sandal and pointed to a bag containing a Croc shoe. He said others found wire fencing and a bed frame, which were both rusting and of considerable size.

The most common items found seemed to be cans and bottles, which was frustrating to Skrukrud.

“If people can come in with these full cans, why can’t they leave with them or dispose of them properly?” she asked as she pointed out several well-marked garbage cans in the park.

Skrukrud said the volunteers are made up of many different people and ages. She helped weigh bags from two student volunteers from Fox River Country Day School. Skrukrud said she would sign papers for the students so they would receive extra credit for volunteering.

“We had students out here today and families,” she said. “We had a lot of little, little kids helping this year and many adults.”

Skrukrud said the volunteers spread out but that a good portion of the cleanup was focused under the I-90 bridge, adjacent to the park.

As the day’s activities come to a close, said the cleanup effort benefited from good weather and that all had done a good job.

Skrukrud agreed, saying Trout Park is important to Elgin because of its unique wildlife and needs to stay clean.

“It really is a beautiful place,” she said.

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