476 (9/23/09)

     Tune into WCCO TV this Saturday night at 11:00 pm for a “Life to the Max” show featuring many members of the Trail Guards.  The show is on “Superior Whitewater,” the rafting company we use for our annual whitewater trip.  An exclusive “Trail Guard” show will be aired in October (date to be announced).

     Somewhere around the beginning and end of each year of Trail Guards (we are finishing up our 18th season), we ask the kids what they most enjoyed--what we did that struck them as the most fun.  Often, the hands-down winner is our annual clean-the-river day.

     It is interesting that a community group effort to clean and care for our river was the activity the directly led to the formation of the Trail Guards in 1992.  I believe Joe Voss was mayor, and, as I recall, he recruited former mayor, Dick Moreland to organize a clean-up effort under a “Governor’s Design Team” initiative (someone correct me if that’s not accurate).

     After several successful years that included many area residents, the Army Reserves, and local contractors, as well as a free lunch provided by the City of Paynesville, Dick asked me to help organize the effort. 

     Noticing the high interest, I requested permission to use a city-owned 12 acre parcel along the river as a trailhead area, and began an effort to construct a trail system along the river to promote environmental awareness.

     The obvious interest of local youth led to occasional Saturday work sessions, which became Wednesday evening sessions, and eventually every-other Saturday workdays.  The Trail Guard organization is what eventually came out of that, and we have grown and evolved dramatically in the ensuing years.

     The every-other Saturday schedule was too difficult for kids to keep track of, and I finally relented, going to the present weekly schedule.  Now kids know that when they wake up on Saturday morning and there is no snow on the ground, and we’re not in a steady downpour, they go to Trail Guards.

     Twenty-eight kids and seven adults joined us last Saturday morning as we filled three canoes heaping full of debris of all sorts.  It was a great team effort rewarded by the satisfaction of a job well done, and a sit-down group lunch of pizza, juice, and cookies.

     Thanks to Crow River Organization of Waters, Buffalo, for organizing the watershed-wide event, and securing and delivering donations of food, bottled water, gloves, and other items for the event.  Hundreds of people in Central Minnesota were out that morning, thanks to C.R.O.W.’s leadership.

     Thanks, also, to Trail Guard parents Jim and Rita Ochs, for their special support, and to all the kids and adults for their hard work.