April 29, 2020
Jeff Williams Editor, Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
JASPER — Thousands of paddlers, hikers, anglers and other recreationists who enjoy moving water haul away tons of discarded metal, plastic and wooden debris from rivers and streams each year. Some outdoor groups organize cleanup days that attract hundreds of helpers.
For their cleanup efforts in 2019, volunteers from the Arkansas Canoe Club have been selected as recipients of the annual George and Helen Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service for Department of the Interior regions 3, 4 and 5. Those three regions include 16 states from Montana, east to Michigan, and south along the Missouri and Mississippi basins to the Gulf of Mexico.
According to a press release from Buffalo National River, the group also has been nominated for the Interior Department’s national award for volunteerism. ACC volunteers pulled about 400 tires and 7.5 tons of bulky debris from the Buffalo River last year, including a Dumpster that was washed into the river during a 2015 flood.
“Congratulations to all Arkansas Canoe Club volunteers for this well-deserved recognition, and a tremendous ‘thank you’ for your dedication to preserving Buffalo National River,” a National Park Service representative wrote in the release.
The awards are named for George B. Hartzog Jr. and his wife. George Hartzog was director of the NPS during 1964-72. He and his wife started the Volunteers-in-Parks program with a few hundred volunteers in 1970 and watched it grow. The Hartzogs made a donation to the National Park Foundation to help continue the program after George retired. Hundreds of thousands of people donate time and skill to the NPS every year.
A reminder: Because of coronavirus health precautions, Buffalo National River remains closed to the public until further notice.
Photo: ACC volunteers paddle a Dumpster like a canoe. This dumpster washed into the Buffalo River during a flood in 2015.