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Volunteers help clean the Mississippi River from their canoe

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Two Rotary Club of La Crosse volunteers helped clean up the Mississippi River in areas unreachable by foot in a canoe on Saturday.

Catherine Kolkmeier and Cindy Ericksen picked up discarded fishing line, beer cans and boat buckets that washed up near the island shores by Interstate 90.

The Rotarian duo live near each other and usually go on walks together, but decided to be more adventurous while volunteering.

"I think that when we're out boating and we're out having fun often times we don't realize that something might slip out of the boat or we might be on an island and drop something and say, 'It's just one little thing it doesn't matter,' but I cleaned up many things on this island and it adds up to looking trashy," Ericksen said. "So if all of us can do our responsibility and pick up after ourselves this makes a big difference."

Kolkmeier said the debris and pollution goes beyond bad looks--it kills.

"The trash really gets concentrated when we have plastic and other trash getting into the river it's interfering with wildlife it can cause them to not be able to eat, cause them to get sick, causes pollution," Kolkmeier said. "We all rely on the water in the area so it's important for us to keep the water clean."

The Rotary Club of La Crosse decided to hold a fall clean up in addition to the traditional spring clean up because the water is lower.

The effort coincides with a national movement among Rotary organizations along the Mississippi to clean trash from the river.

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Marcus Aarsvold

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