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COVID Doesn't Stop Living Land and Waters

Despite the pandemic, 2021 was another busy year for Chad Pregracke and Living Lands and Waters. By the end of December, the group had picked up more than 565,000 pounds of trash along seven major rivers.

Spokesperson Callie Schaser says because of COVID, Living Lands and Waters relied on small group cleanups instead of the larger events of the past years.

"We'd get groups of anywhere from 6-15, 6-20 trying to be as safe as possible with COVID. Luckily we do work outside so that make our life a little easier just being more safe but when we're in the boats and everything with them we have COVID measures just to be safe and all of that.

One major change from the past was having a small excavator to help their crews pick up larger items.

"So they're going up and down on the banks and getting that really, really heavy stuff that we can't get which are cars, boats, house boats, we have a sail boat, and we have a sunken barge as well. And those things come anywhere from 3,000 pounds I think maybe even to 35."

Schaser says during a cleanup in Memphis, they found a gun with its serial number scratched off and gave it to police, and near Paducah, they found a 10,000 pound boiler from a turn-of-the-century steamboat.

In December, Living Lands and Waters sent a crew to Kentucky to help clean up from the devastating tornados. At Kentucky Lake they focused on picking up boats that had been damaged to recover the fuel before it leaked into the environment.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois. While a graduate student in the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield (then known as Sangamon State University), he got his first taste of public radio, covering Illinois state government for WUIS. Here in the Quad Cities, Herb worked for WHBF Radio before coming to WVIK in 1987. Herb also produces the weekly public affairs feature Midwest Week – covering the news behind the news by interviewing reporters about the stories they cover.