Volunteers spruce up Salt Creek
A substantial number of volunteers turned out to help with the Salt Creek Watershed Network cleanup day Saturday at Bemis Woods. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
NAME: Salt Creek Watershed Network
AREA SERVED: Western Cook County and DuPage County
PURPOSE: Educational outreach, advocacy and a spring clean-up
WEB SITE: www.
MEETINGS: 7 p.m. first Monday every other month. Next meeting June 4 at LaGrange Park Public Library, 555 N. La Grange Road
CONTACT: Ron Hursh at email@example.com
Updated: July 9, 2012 1:45AM
Salt Creek’s natural beauty is showing a bit more as it winds through Western Springs and LaGrange Park, thanks to volunteer cleanup efforts Saturday.
On shore and in canoes, a crew of about 60 donned hip waders or old sneakers and gloves to gather trash stashed along the creek banks and bike path meandering through several Cook County Forest Preserves.
“The early warm weather this spring caused quite a bit of weed growth so it was harder to see some of the garbage,” said Stan Zarnowiecki of La Grange, one of the organizers from the Salt Creek Watershed Network.
The group watches waterways and draws members from western Cook County and DuPage County.
Volunteers collected at least 20 bags of trash in the forest preserves from the Tri-State Tollway bridge east to 26th Street and Kemman Avenue in Brookfield. Another crew collected more than 25 bags of trash in an industrial area along Addison Creek, which empties into Salt Creek.
“A lot of garbage doesn’t fit in bags, like tires, carpeting and foam padding that goes under carpeting,” Zarnowiecki said.
Still, there are fewer large items and the overall amount of trash is down a little from last year, said another organizer, Ron Hursh of LaGrange Park.
“Probably the most volume of stuff came up from along the shoreline,” Hursh said. “It’s significant to note there isn’t as much debris around the bike trial and the shoreline as we used to see. People are more careful.”
In scouting the creek and preserves to assign volunteers where they’d be most effective, Hursh said he found a hide-a-bed frame, which he sawed so it could be carried away in pieces. A tank found Saturday also will have to be cut up and carted away, he said.
“In general, people were pleased with what they were able to find, and in some places they didn’t find much trash,” Hursh said. “That’s a credit to the change in the mind-set of people using the natural resources.”
Zarnowiecki said the most significant change people could make is in eliminating plastic water bottles and grocery bags.
“The ratio is probably 20 to 1 of plastic water bottles to beer cans or soda bottles or anything else,” he said. “If we could just get that through people’s heads that disposable plastic water bottles should be on their way out along with plastic grocery bags.”
Leah Slivovsky, 13, from Western Springs, said she’s encouraged to see a drop in the amount of trash collected in each of the past four years she has volunteered on the cleanup.
“Every year, I can tell a difference,” Slivovsky said. “From what I remember at the beginning there were things like bicycles and mattresses we’d find everywhere. Now we’re looking for the small things and picking them up.”
The seventh-grader at LaGrange Highlands Middle School said she enjoys volunteering because she can see small changes adding up over time.
“It’s definitely rewarding. I can tell what we’re doing is making a difference,” she said. “It feels satisfying.”