Ponca volunteers tackle the challenge of cleaning up the Mighty - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Ponca volunteers tackle the challenge of cleaning up the Mighty Mo

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Volunteers spent their Saturday morning clearing the shore lines of the Missouri River near Ponca, Neb., of any man-made garbage. Volunteers spent their Saturday morning clearing the shore lines of the Missouri River near Ponca, Neb., of any man-made garbage.
PONCA, NE (KTIV) -

Nearly two years later after the devastating summer flood of 2011, efforts are still being made to restore the shoreline along the Missouri River.  

On Saturday, volunteers came out to Nebraska's Ponca State Park, to chip in.

Dugan Smith has led river clean-ups before, but even he isn't sure what he'll find along the Mighty Mo this time around.

"You may think there's nothing out there," said Dugan Smith, park manager for the National Park Service. "When you look from the shore, it looks clean, but you get out there and you start walking, pretty soon you've got a bag here, a bag there, of trash collected. And the small stuff starts piling up pretty good after a while."

A couple dozen volunteers boarded motor boats, hoping to tackle the tall task of cleaning and clearing the shoreline.

"I spend quite a bit of time on the river, and I hate seeing human garbage laying on the banks or anywhere," said Myron Fleury, a volunteer from Ponca.

"Get out there and hit some sandbars and places where the trash has collected over the years, and especially since the flood," said Smith.

"Just look for anything there that you're able to pick up. Big things, especially anything that's going to endanger anything, probably," said Jessi Gatzemeyer, a volunteer from Ponca.

"Anything that's not natural. We want to get it out of there," said Fleury.

As they walked over the rugged terrain, volunteers uncovered a number of different buried treasures.

That includes the front of a lawnmower, an antique chair, rope and a vintage wooden tennis racquet.

Some of the items were too big to carry back to the boat. So, volunteers would tag them with trash bags, so that the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission can come by and remove them later.

"Definitely, there'll be some opportunities to get people out there to gather some of the medium-sized to smaller stuff. We don't want anybody to hurt themselves, but we want to make sure they're big enough where we can actually load them up onto the boat," said Smith.

After hours of searching the shorelines, the crews returned to the boats and headed back to shore.

"Just want to keep it looking beautiful and welcoming for everyone else, our visitors," said Gatzemeyer.

All the while, they feel like they've made a little progress on a big challenge.

If you're interested in cleaning up, additional clean up days for the river will be in Vermillion, S.D., on Sept. 14, and in Niobrara, Neb., Oct. 5.

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