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Community service and

citizen science at the headwaters

of the Mississippi River: 

Thinking globally

and acting locally

to tackle plastic pollution

and RIVER ISSUES throughout our watershed!

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A joint "Source to Sea"  effort in  partnership with:

 the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI),


the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP),


the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),

  the National Geographic Society (NGS)



the Bemidji Rotary Club 

in cooperation with

Mississippi Headwaters River Angels

and other local community organizations

and regional Rotary Groups


Join us for 

river clean-up,



and education!

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Beach Cleanup

Did You Know?

Plastic pollution is the biggest problem
affecting our oceans today--and most of it comes from the interior of our continents, flowing downstream on rivers to the sea.

Click on the images below to find out more! 

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Litter from Lake Bemidji and its tributaries doesn't just disappear, it pollutes our local waterways and can travel far downstream from here

The Mississippi River watershed drains more than 40% of the          United States --and local litter problems often flow downstream

This past year, during litter pickups all along the Mississippi River, 72% of the litter collected was plastic

Of the plastics collected along the river, most included plastic shopping bags and food wrappers, plastic bottles, and cigarette butts

Plastic litter also floats downstream to the Gulf of Mexico where it accumulates on coastal beaches and  becomes part of a multi-ton     swirling garbage patch offshore

In these swirling garbage patches, river-borne litter mixes with plastic marine debris, 94% of which is cast off fishing line and fishing nets

Plastics in both river and marine debris harm wildlife through strangulation, suffocation and ensnarement ​

Freshwater and marine animals also mistake floating litter for  edible food, then die of starvation after consuming so much inedible plastic that it accumulates internally and causes blockage

Plastics in aquatic debris may break into smaller fragments, but these resist complete decomposition for up to 450 years ​

Smaller plastic fragments in the form of microplastics have been found accumulating in the tissues of smaller aquatic organisms, and then accumulate up the foodchain to higher organisms (including humans) who consume them, possibly causing long term health problems

What is the answer? Citizens and scientists together can make a difference! Take part in clean-up projects and citizen science monitoring programs!

A  joint "Source to Sea"   initiative has been launched to                  tackle this issue,  with local community groups stepping up to take part in a river-wide partnership  with local and regional Rotary Clubs,the MRCTI, UNEP, NOAA,  &  National Geographic

Efforts will focus on clean-up, environmental monitoring, and education. Join us!

You can help in many ways!

  • Reduce your own personal use of  plastics 

  • Don't buy or use throwaway single-use items made of plastic

  • Don't litter, and pick up litter whenever you see it

  • Recycle plastics and other waste whenever possible

  • help educate your neighbors and community members on this issue

  • join comunity clean-up projects

  • help monitor litter flow into our river system by joining the Marine Debris Tracker Citizen Science Project 


  • investigate other sources of  local pollution affecting our local waterways, and be part of the solution to the problem 


  • learn more plastic, pollution and monitoring throughout the Mississippi River watershed

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Cleaning the Beach
Beach Cleaning
Plastic Bag on Beach
Plastic Polluted Ocean
Trash on Beach



Learn more about  global plastic issues and  the new National Geographics
"Planet ot Plastic" Campaign

Learn More about  the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)  as partner in this project       

Learn more about the plastics monitoring project, including how to use the Marine Debris Tracker app, at the NGS site

Go to the Marine Debris Tracker  website to download the app you need to participate  in monitoring

Learn more about the national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as partner in this project 

Learn more about the the Mississippi River Cities  and Towns Initiative (MRCTI)  as partner in this project 

Learn about "The Mississippi River Runs Through US"  Rotary Initiative as partner in the project 

Learn how to educate students and community groups about  plastics pollution and monitoring  through National Geographics free online professional development course

Learn about other Rotary International Environmental Projects here 

Get all the latest  on other  Rotary activities  here in Bemidji,
the first town on the Mississippi: 

Attend a Bemidji-area river education workshop or borrow river education materials through the
River's Edge Geographics Teacher Resource Center ! 

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Children Cleaning Beach
Trash Pick-Up
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This webpage hosted by River's Edge Geographics

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