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Cedar River Making Clean-Up Work Difficult

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CEDAR RAPIDS - Every year the Iowa Department of Natural Resources organizes a week long clean-up of one of the state's many rivers.

This year hundreds of volunteers are hitting the Cedar River, from Center Point to Muscatine.

But once again, the Cedar River is making times tough.

For the first time in a year, Susan Heathcote is hitting the water again. Even though this is her sixth time on the venture, her and about 20 other people took refresher course on using a canoe on a river.

"This is my vacation, I have two weeks and this is one week," said Heathcote.

Starting Sunday, more than 200 volunteers are coming to Eastern Iowa for Project Aware. It's the annual effort from the Department of Natural Resources to clean up Iowa's waterways.

Last year the volunteers cleaned up the Cedar River and the Winnebago River near Waterloo.

"We had to leave a lot of stuff behind, especially the big stuff, but we set a record on the amount of garbage we pulled out of the river last time," said Heathcote.

Each year the volunteers vote where they want to go next year, and most of them chose to come to the Cedar River near Cedar Rapids, because of the flooding.

"Really, this is something the whole state needs to be involved with to help the communities that were affected," said Heathcote.

But, just like last June, the Cedar River isn't playing nice. All the recent rain has made the river too high and flowing too fast for the volunteer canoe teams.

"One of the lessons we're always learning as a society is to learn to live with the river, not the other way around," said Project Aware organizer Brian Soenen.

So the group will do other projects along the banks until the Cedar calms down again.

Whether they're on water or next to it, Heathcote said any work will make a difference.

Go to Justin's Blog for information on how to contact and be a part of Project AWARE this week.

Email Justin Foss at

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