UPDATE: Due to the heavy rainfall received this week, this event has been postponed until Saturday, March 19.
After Winter Storm Goliath dumped up to a foot of rain locally in the last week of December 2015, uprooted trees, a half-ton of hay bales, and massive amounts of debris were washed into the Ouachita River and have left a devastating scenery along the banks.
Morgan Puckett, a seventh grader at Mena Middle School first heard about the river situation from her family who has lived along the Ouachita for generations. “At first, I didn’t believe it could be so bad,” she said. When she saw the extent of the disaster, she was shocked. “There is trash all over the place from tiny pieces to pieces as long as cars,” Morgan explained. “I asked dad, “What are they going to do about this?”
While discussing the travesty with her father, Edd Puckett, they decided that they would be ‘they’ and clean it up and the idea of Morgan’s Project was launched. Since then, Morgan and others have begun to recruit others to help with the clean up. The primary area of concern stretches approximately 10 miles from above McGuire Landing past Cherry Hill.
On Saturday, March 19th, willing citizens are being asked to bring their flat bottom boats or canoes to a central staging area that is now being arranged. Volunteers will be provided with plastic bags and assigned a short section of the river to clean. Maps will be available with circled assignment areas; access points are being arranged with cooperative landowners along the affected area. The cleanup will end with a cookout at a staging area.
Edd hopes volunteers will not only come to help clean up the river but will take time to wet a hook and enjoy the beauty of the area’s namesake river. Volunteers are invited to help in useful ways in the water as well as support crew at the staging site. To pledge your support as a landowner, recovery volunteer, or support crew, call Edd Puckett at 479-234-5435.