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Northwest Arkansas residents and community groups can once again help keep the region’s parks, trails and waterways beautiful and safe by joining the third annual Pick Up Where You Play, a series of litter cleanups starting this week (find the schedule below).

Several cities and other local organizations, including NWA Recycles, have partnered to host cleanups throughout the next two months. The series will begin Sept. 10 with events in both Bentonville and along Lee Creek in Devil’s Den State Park and will end Nov. 5 at Lake Wilson south of Fayetteville. NWA Recycles is hosting a cleanup for the first time on Sept. 24 near the Northwest Arkansas Mall, and you’re welcome to join us.

Pick Up Where You Play 2022 is dedicated to Michael Harp, who worked for 20 years at Boston Mountain as a recycling driver, transfer station manager and finally chief environmental officer before his death on July 10. As chief environmental officer, Harp educated the public as well as local and state agencies on environmental law and the hazards of illegal trash disposal, working thousands of cases across Madison and Washington counties. Siloam Springs, Harp’s hometown for much of his life, will host a cleanup on Oct. 15.

“Mike cared deeply for people and the environment and was always willing to jump in and help wherever needed,” said Robyn Reed, the waste district’s director. “He will be greatly missed by his coworkers and friends, and these cleanups will be a wonderful way to honor his legacy.”

Participants will receive gloves, bags and prizes, including a chance to win a two-night cabin and float trip for four on the Elk River thanks to sponsor Gracie’s Canoe Camp (see the full slate of partners and sponsors after the schedule below).

Pick Up Where You Play began during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic with the idea that the outdoor spaces that provide relaxation and recreation also need our help. Litter harms wildlife, hurts water quality and ultimately impacts our region’s ecosystems and drinking water supplies — and much of it could be recycled, too. Each cleanup is a chance to prevent that damage and take an active role in conserving the region’s natural resources.

More than 500 volunteers joined last year’s cleanups, collecting more than 5 tons of litter from dozens of locations and recycling thousands of bottles and cans.

Here’s this year’s schedule. Check the main Pick Up Where You Play website for any updates.

Saturday, Sept. 10th

Sunday, Sept. 11th

Saturday, Sept. 17th

Saturday, Sept. 24th

  • Clear Creek Trail by the Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville, 9-11 a.m.; here’s the Facebook event. (NWA Recycles is hosting this one!)
  • Lake Elmdale between Springdale and Elm Springs, 1-3 p.m.; click here for the flyer.

Thursday, Sept. 29th

Saturday, October 8th

Wednesday, Oct. 12th – Sunday, Oct. 16th

Saturday, Oct. 15th

Saturday, Oct. 22nd (Make A Difference Day)

             *Volunteer Appreciation Happy Hour at Fossil Cove Brewing Company at 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 5th

  • Lake Wilson south of Fayetteville, 9:30 a.m. to noon.