Volunteers clean waterways, keep Ouachita Parish beautiful

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OUACHITA PARISH, La. (KNOE) - H2 GO and Ouachita Green partnered for this year's Ouachita River Sweep on Sunday. More than 20 volunteers launched kayaks and boats at the Forsythe boat ramp to help.

Volunteers cleaned the Ouachita River on Sunday. (Source: KNOE)

H2 GO owner Mark Elliott says he and others paddle down the river every month. He says he knows the Ouachita could be cleaner. "It certainly needs attention,” Elliott says. “The more we can do to beautify the river and to clear it of debris and trash, the safer and more enjoyable it is for everyone. It's sort of the lifeblood of our environment."

Elliot says although more people are starting to take advantage of the river, it’s important to maintain its quality.

"We've seen a great increase in recreational traffic at least in the paddling community in the last couple of years. I believe the more pristine and clean the waterway is, people will have more of a desire to get out and participate and get involved."

Ouachita Green director Stuart Hodnett says it’s an important job, because that’s where a lot of trash ends up. "Everything that's been littered or thrown out ends up in the river through our local waterways. So, we're cleaning it up," Hodnett says.

He says more than 400 volunteers cleaned rivers, lakes and bayous all over Ouachita Parish this weekend. People at home benefit from clean waterways in more ways than one.

"It's extremely important to keep the waterways clean here for ourselves, for our community, for culture development, for economic development, for visitors that are coming in doing different activities here in the community,” Hodnett says. “We want to have the appearance of the river clean, neat. People can come on and enjoy it."

The volunteers also cleaned upriver into Union Parish as well to help fight litter, which makes it easier for the cleaning efforts downstream. "If we can get upstream as much as we can up to the Arkansas line, we can have a less impact of litter here in Ouachita River."

Elliott says once our waterways our clear of trash, it's easy to see how beautiful mother nature can be. "It's a wonderful way to get unplugged from the hecticness of life, to get out into nature,” Elliott says. “You'll see birds, fish, animals that you wouldn't otherwise see. So, it's really a great way to get out and enjoy the nature."

H2 GO will host its annual River Rat Paddle Challenge on September 28. You can go to their facebook page to sign up.

Ouachita Green will take part in America Recycles Day in November. To find out more, you can go to their website at OuachitaGreen.org.