Get out and clean up: Xstream Cleanup provides fun year-round

Maggie Markham fills her trash bag with garbage that had been dumped in Lincoln Park in Rock Island during the Xstream Cleanup on Saturday, August 8, 2015. Ms. Markham was part of a group of volunteers clearing the creek bed of a variety of illegally dumped materials.

Want to make a difference in the community and environment? Xstream Cleanup invites you to join the ranks to volunteer, improve water quality and have a blast.

“Xstream Cleanup has an amazing, fun vibe. Volunteers come out because they really care about where we live. They like to get dirty and work hard, and it all adds up to cleaner water and a healthier community. That’s what Xstream has always been about,” says Kurt Liske, communication specialist for Waste Commission of Scott County and iLivehere, which help organize Xstream Cleanup.

This spring, volunteers will convene to clean up litter in Davenport’s gateways; wrap young trees with not-for-profit Living Lands & Waters; maintain trails in Milan with Big Island Soil and Water Preservation Association and more. They will do so under the umbrella of Xstream Cleanup, formerly a one-day event in August that changed its format last year. No longer limited to a single day, Xstream now promotes a diverse array of water quality-focused stewardship opportunities spring through fall.

The first event this year is the City of Davenport’s Corridor Cleanup on March 25. 

“The spring thaw usually leaves behind gateways littered with debris once covered by snow. Not only does the litter impact our waterways, but it leaves our community looking less than inviting,” says Robbin Dunn, communications and preparedness manager for the city of Davenport and Xstream Cleanup organizer.

“Our volunteers have a blast cleaning up and take pride in what they are able to accomplish. Knowing what it looked like before and then after is pretty awesome feeling.”

Keeping track of “before and after” always has been a big part of Xstream. Through the years, volunteers have removed close to 1 million pounds of debris from natural areas in and around the Quad-Cities — debris that would have ended up in waterways.

In 2016, under its new format, Xstream engaged more than 2,000 volunteers to work 4,419 hours on 30 projects. Volunteers cleaned up 12,440 pounds of trash; planted 1,300 trees and 150,000 acorns; cleared invasive plant species from more than three acres and planted a wildlife garden, to name a handful of their accomplishments. (You can read more on the website, xstreamcleanup.org, by clicking “2016 Snapshot of Success.”)

Getting involved is simple. New events are regularly posted on the website, and volunteers also may sign up to receive quarterly e-newsletters with opportunities inside. Another way to stay informed is to “like” Xstream Cleanup on Facebook. (To make sure you don’t miss events, select “See First” from the “Following” drop-down on the Xstream Cleanup Facebook page.)

Xstream Cleanup is organized by a group of community partners from diverse organizations, and its activities are funded by sponsors that have a stake in the health of the Quad-Cities community and environment, such as Regional Development Authority (formerly Riverboat Development Authority), Arconic (formerly Alcoa) and Triumph Community Bank.

“Our sponsors understand the value of what our volunteers accomplish year in and year out,” says Curtis Lundy, longtime Xstream Cleanup chair. “Their support means that we can keep on teaming up to clean up as we have since 2004.”

Xstream Cleanup started with a small-scale cleanup of Duck Creek in 2004 and grew from there. In previous years, volunteers for the one-day event had cleaned up more than 40 sites. But over time, organizers say, many of the regular cleanup sites no longer needed annual maintenance. That’s when the group began looking for other ways to engage volunteers in water quality, and to remove invasive species, harmful plants that can choke out native plants.

The group switched to a year-round format in 2016. The results "are impressive, and we’ll continue to evolve,” says Lundy.

“We’re working hard to meet the needs of the community, and to keep our volunteers rocking and


Brandy Welvaert is a former editor of Radish and currently is communication coordinator for Waste Commission of Scott County and iLivehere, which are Xstream Cleanup partner organizations.

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