One might think, judging from the numbers, that junk grows in the Allegheny River like rare mussels and weeds.
Volunteers have been extracting more and more junk each year for the past three years, and this year will be expanding the hunt to the full 38 miles of the river from the Kinzua Dam to West Hickory, covering the stretch downstream from Tidioute for the first time.
So, think of this as harvest time.
Between Saturday, Sept. 15, and the following Saturday, scores of volunteers will take to the water in canoes, kayaks, outboards and other things that float in search of the flotsam and jetsam of civilization that litters the bottom and the banks of a magnificent river.
It's a dirty job, but there are few environmental efforts that provide as much satisfaction or as much comradeship. That sense of satisfaction grows at the same rate as the piles of detritus that measure the success of the effort.
From shopping carts to old tires, from hotwater heaters to bicycles, the variety of trash that comes from the river never ceases to intrigue.
There are only a few major waterways in Pennsylvania that can boast the beauty and the historical significance of the Allegheny River, whose waters ultimately join with the Monongahela to form the Ohio River at Pittsburgh.
We encourage anyone who enjoys what the river provides to volunteer some time during that week to help clean it up. The whole thing ends with a River Riot party at the Buckaloons Campground on Sept. 22. The happiest, most satisfied partiers will be those with muddy clothes.