For those unfamiliar with Living Lands and Waters, it's worth taking a moment to learn about this relatively young organization fighting river pollution and working to restore environmental health of our nation's waterways.
Chad Pregracke grew up in East Moline, Ill., spending much of his youth on the Mississippi River. During those formative years Pregracke began noticing a build-up of tires, appliances, construction scraps and other forms of river pollution clogging the waters. In 1998 he decided to do something about it, founding Living Lands and Waters.
Originally, Living Lands and Waters focused on pulling garbage out of the Mississippi River. In recent years the organization has also worked on the Ohio and Illinois rivers, and their tributaries.
A CNN story featuring Pregracke notes that he's pulled more than 67,000 tires, 2,800 washing machines, nearly 1,000 refrigerators, 19 tractors and 12 hot tubs from the nation's waterways.
Living Lands and Waters began with one barge. The fleet has since grown to include five barges, two tow boats, six work boats, two skid steers, five work trucks, a crane and a box truck. And while cleaning up river pollution is still the main goal of Living Lands and Waters, the group seems to constantly add to its mission.
The organization also takes part in tree plantings and other conservation efforts. Their intent is to improve the environmental health of every river area they touch.
One of the barges serves as an educational center. The House Barge, built in 2011 is a cool piece of engineering that helps Living Lands and Waters accomplish its missions. The 150' x 35' barge is solar and wind powered. It is the home of dorm rooms and class rooms, and the structure's building materials included reclaimed barn tin, recycled license plates and old bridge girders.
Living Lands and Waters makes it easy for people to aid the environmental health of their areas. Volunteers can go to the website to find river cleanups and educational workshops. There is even a way to adopt a portion of a river.
They've also offered something called the Alternative Spring Break, where volunteers can spend a week helping the Living Lands and Waters crew improve the environmental health of a stretch of river. Last year students worked the Mississippi River near Memphis. The site of 2014's Alternative Spring Break has yet to be determined.
The organization has removed so much river pollution in such a short time that CNN named Pregracke one of its Top 10 Heroes for 2013.
Care To Click encourages our readers to visit the Living Lands and Waters website to see if there is a way they can make an impact (there is a page that accepts donations).
After doing so, be sure to stop by the Care To Click Environment page and donate a free click or print useful coupons. At CareToClick.com, small actions prompt our donations that aid the environmental health of our planet.