An Iowan who’s won fame cleaning up the landscape has plans for a fundraiser this coming weekend for the cause. Chad Pregracke has also spent a lot of time in the mud, working with other volunteers for “Living Lands and Waters.” Five days from now he’ll join a group in Port Byron, Illinois, for a poker run called “Bikes and Boats.” They’ll ride the river road up to Savannah, making “a few stops along the way.” They cross the Mississippi at Sabula, Iowa’s only island city, then drive down to Princeton and cross the river to end up back at Jimmie Lee’s Bar and Grill in Port Byron. He says riders can be on anything from a bicycle to a Harley, and it’ll be a ride of 100 miles. They have donated prizes, too, for the fundraiser to help the river cleanup work. They’ve held different events and hope this one will bring people who don’t know about the project, to teach them about the group’s work cleaning up the river. Just last week, his cleanup barge returned from the Illinois River to the Mississippi. The boat’s in St. Louis and will be coming farther north, through Keokuk and Burlington, past the Quad Cities and Dubuque. “We’re gonna keep goin’ so we’ll be here for the next couple months, actually.” Pregracke says the brightly-painted barge serves a couple purposes. One’s as a focus for the cleanup, to show people how hard they’re working, what they’ve pulled out of the river, and to symbolize teamwork. It also serves as a floating recycling center, plus: “Eight of us live on it for about 9 months a year.” Chad says it’s good to be back on the Mississippi because he’s been traveling a lot, out to the Potomac this year, the Ohio and the Illinois. And he has more work ahead before the summer’s over. July 30 they’ll be in Burlington doing another cleanup and in Muscatine August 6. There’ll be another fundraiser, a “Barge Party” in Davenport August 11. The “Extreme Cleanup” event, which drew a thousand people last year, will be August 20 in the Quad Cities. On the 27th they’ll be in Clinton, and Dubuque September tenth. The son of two teachers who grew up on the river, his river-cleaning projects have won him awards, recognition and an honorary doctorate for his work in education and the environment from St. Ambrose University in Davenport.
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