Volunteers cleanup Boneyard; collect 59 bags of trash

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More than 400 volunteers took to the Boneyard Creek, its tributaries and areas across the community on April 12 to clean it up as part of the Boneyard Creek Community Day. 

The event had a record turnout, with its largest volunteer base coming from the University. This year, the event had another first — it was the first year volunteers had to keep track of the amount of garbage they picked up.

“We cover several different areas all over Champaign-Urbana, so it’s difficult to get an idea of how much trash we clean up. This tally provides a way to gather this metric,” said Eliana Brown, coordinator of the event. “Plus, it gives us an idea of what kinds of waste we see the most. Ultimately, my hope is that people will see this information and rethink their habits.” 

After more than a month, the coordinators have finished tallying the results. Not every team kept a trash tally, but most did. Between these groups, 59 trash bags were filled with a variety of junk, including: cigarette butts, food wrappers, take-out boxes, straws/stirrers, utensils, bottles/cans, bags, caps/lids, cups/plates and a variety of other items.

Brad Bennett, assistant city engineer for Urbana Public Works, said most of Urbana’s storm water ends up in the creek — so when people litter a mile away from any waterway, it still has the chance of going down an inlet and washing down the creek.

“It takes the bulk of Champaign’s storm water, the bulk of the University and almost all of Urbana drains into the Boneyard Creek,” he said.

That’s why the cleanup focused not only on the waterway, but also the surrounding areas with inlets that lead to the Boneyard Creek.

Shannon Darcy, a second-year veterinary medicine student, and other veterinarian medicine students cleaned up the saline branch, which the Boneyard leads into. It was one of many sites the volunteers cleaned.

She said the most common thing her group found in the Saline Branch, which cuts through a golf course, were plastic bags.

“A lot of the golfers here are better than I expected,” she said with a chuckle. 

Austin can be reached at [email protected]dailyillini.com or @austinkeating3.