SMWC’s Operation Wabashiki returns for third year

April 5th, 2013 | SMWC

The beautiful Wabashiki. Mist gently swirls around broken trees in gray water, home to thousands of birds, fish…and some old tires, a mattress, and a broken coffee maker. One of Indiana’s newest protected wetlands, the Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area, located west of the Wabash River, is often used for illegal dumping.  Despite efforts to clean it up and restore its natural beauty, the dumping continues.

Early next Sunday morning, April 7, the members of the Sustainability Club members will return to its banks for their 3rd annual Operation Wabashiki.  Armed with trash bags and fueled with coffee, they will tackle the mess in hopes of creating a cleaner environment.

Although this is Social Science Major Emma Bird’s first year as president of the Club, she’s participated in Operation Wabashiki in previous years. A resident of West Terre Haute, she is dismayed at the condition of the river. She and the Club have spent hours picking up litter behind the railroad tracks in West Terre Haute where the grade slopes down and meets the water.

“We’ve found old couches, lots of broken glass, lots of tires, and even mattresses,” Bird said. “The piles of trash, especially all the tires, just amaze me. Some of the stuff is just gross.”

Even though the job is difficult, Bird says that it is worth it. “It looks so much nicer when we’re done,” she said. “You can see the difference. It just makes me feel so good inside.”

However, the Club is fighting an uphill battle. Despite efforts by the Club and other members of the community to clean it up, people continue to use the area to dump their trash. Bird said that it is frustrating to come back year after year and face the same mess they just cleaned up the year before.

“It makes me angry,” she said. “The river is not a place to dump your trash. It’s something to enjoy, and it can be beautiful.”

The Sustainability Club invites members of the community to come out and give them a hand. If you are interested in helping out, you can meet the club at Dewey Point in West Terre Haute on April 7 from 9 to 1 p.m.  The Club will provide work gloves, coffee, snacks and trash bags.

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