Community joins together to rid area of litter

Jacob+Lee%2C+junior+in+LAS+and+member+of+Floor+Lovers+Illinois%2C+break+dances+at+the+corner+of+Neil+and+Main+streets+for+the+Boneyard+Arts+Festival+on+Thursday.+The+Floor+Lovers+Illinois%2C+along+with+other+performers%2C+participated+in+the+Boneyard+Arts+Festival.%0A

Jacob Lee, junior in LAS and member of Floor Lovers Illinois, break dances at the corner of Neil and Main streets for the Boneyard Arts Festival on Thursday. The Floor Lovers Illinois, along with other performers, participated in the Boneyard Arts Festival.

By Colleen Vest

With Earth Day around the corner, community members will be doing their part rid the community of litter and improve the appearance of Boneyard Creek.

The fourth annual Boneyard Creek Community Day, a day when volunteers clean the creek and other areas in Champaign-Urbana, is taking place Saturday. The creek runs through Champaign, Urbana and campus.

“The main purpose is to raise awareness about the Boneyard Creek and our waterways by getting people from the community to come out and help,” said Katie Flint, programs manager for Champaign Park District.

Volunteers attend registration on the Engineering Quad and then are assigned an area to clean up litter.

“It’s just a big community effort to really take care of the waterways and the area,” Flint said.

The community day is a cooperative effort between: the two cities, Champaign and Urbana park districts, the University and Prairie Rivers Network, Flint said.

“We also do storm drain stenciling,” said Cecily Smith, policy and outreach specialist for Prairie River Network. “There’s a lot of pollution that people aren’t aware of, so some of the volunteers help us get that message out by putting these medallions on the storm drains.”

Some “master naturalists” help pull out invasive plants and replant them in other parts of the community, she added.

“As development happens, we think it’s really important that people try to stay connected to natural areas as much as possible,” Smith said.

Flint added that involvement in community day has been steadily increasing for the past couple years.

“Last year we had over 400 volunteers,” she said. “We get a ton of student participation. We get a lot of fraternities, sororities and just general U of I students who just want to come out.”

Chad Dunn, who plays music on recycled percussion, said he will be on the Engineering Quad during the Boneyard Creek Community Day event.

“We kind of try to tie in some artistic elements with the event because of what’s going on in the community with the Boneyard arts festival,” Flint said,

Smith said the creek is an important part of the community that needs to be taken care of and protected.

“We think having this creek run through the towns of Champaign and Urbana is a wonderful thing,” Smith said. “We want to make sure that people can have the opportunity to come and see the creek.”