Volunteers in two neighboring cities in western Arkansas will work Saturday to clean up the banks of one river — the mighty Arkansas River.

Volunteers in two neighboring cities in western Arkansas will work Saturday to clean up the banks of one river — the mighty Arkansas River.


The 1,460-mile river crosses four states before flowing into the Mississippi River in eastern Arkansas. It carries the name of our state and its existence has greatly impacted the development of western Arkansas.


The river and the lands surrounding it also carry great beauty. Volunteers in Fort Smith and Van Buren on Saturday want to help preserve its beauty by taking part in the Great Arkansas River Cleanup, a part of the annual Great Arkansas Cleanup. Events are scheduled throughout the region throughout September.


"Officials with Keep Arkansas Beautiful coordinate river cleanups every year, and we jumped on board this time to participate. We have a lot of shoreline on the Arkansas River here, so we thought this project would be a good project to do," said Andrea Beckman, a volunteer with Beautify Fort Smith.


Ms. Beckman said all individuals, families, businesses, neighborhood watch groups, service organizations, classroom project participants, clubs, scout groups and church groups are among those encouraged to participate Saturday. Beautify Fort Smith members will supply gloves, trash bags and safety vests, and water and snacks will be available.


Joe Hamilton, a park interpreter with Lake Fort Smith State Park, said he anticipates "great attendance" for Great Arkansas Cleanup events.


"Crawford County 4-H is going to be helping out this year, and we are expecting anywhere from 30 to 50 people to take part in this important event," Mr. Hamilton said. "The great thing about events of this nature is, it gives people a chance to exercise and to be caretakers of this state park. It allows hikers to enjoy the pristine beauty of nature, and we want everyone to participate."


Other cleanup events this month include:


• Great Arkansas River Cleanup — 9 a.m. to noon Saturday; Fort Smith Park, 5301 Riverfront Drive and at Lee Creek Park on Lee Creek Park Road in Van Buren.


• Byrd’s Mulberry River Cleanup and Recycling Project — 7 a.m. Sept. 13 at Byrd’s Adventure Center, 7037 Arkansas 215 in Ozark. The event includes picking up litter, recycling, a volunteer cookout and musical guests. Registration begins at 7 a.m. For information, call (479) 667-4066 or email courtney.doudnagmail.com.


• The Great Arkansas Cleanup Event — 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 27 at Lake Fort Smith State Park, 15458 Shepherd Springs Road in Mountainburg. Volunteers will help clean the park’s Ozark Highland/Shepherd Springs Loop and the Boston Mountain Multi-Use trails. Trash bags, gloves, drinks and snacks will be provided. Both moderate trails are about four miles long. For information, call (479) 369-2469, email lakefortsmitharkansas.com or visit www.arkansasstateparks.com.


• The Great Arkansas Cleanup — 8 a.m. to noon Sept. 27 at Lake Dardanelle State Park, 100 State Park Drive in Russellville. The event will be part of the Dardanelle Aquatic Resource Team’s 20th annual National Public Lands Day and draws numerous volunteers to improve and restore the lands and facilities so many use for recreation and education. For information, call (479) 967-5516, email lakedardanellearkansas.com or visit www.arkansasstateparks.com.


• The Great Arkansas Cleanup and National Public Lands Day — Sept. 27 at Petit Jean State Park, 1285 Petit Jean Mountain Road in Morrilton. For activity times and information, call (501) 727-5441, email petitjeanarkansas.com or visit www.arkansasstateparks.com.


Arkansas is a land of great beauty that also allows for wonderful and varied recreational activities — so let’s all work to keep it litter-free.