If you know someone named Millie in western Minnesota who's looking for her bowling ball, tell her Paul Twedt and Michael Anderson found it. And it floats.
Twedt and Anderson found it on the Minnesota River last week, along with half a ton of other junk they've pulled from its waters since July 3. And they're almost half done.
The founders of the Adventure Stewardship Alliance are paddling three of Minnesota's proudest rivers this year, liberating litter along the way. Their Three Rivers Project of 2017 is taking them down the St. Croix, Minnesota, and Mississippi Rivers. That's 1,200 miles of water and the pounds of trash will be a much larger number by the time they're done.
Anderson and Twedt paddled the St. Croix in June and, as the map shows, they actually started in Wisconsin on the Namekagon River which flows into the St. Croix. Their 237 mile journey took 15 days and they collected 736 pounds of trash.
They're on pace to more than double that trash total on the Minnesota, including lots of Styrofoam, tires, a sunken raft, and a Weber grill, their daily log shows.
They'll follow the Minnesota all the way to the Twin Cities. Then after a break they'll tackle the Mississippi in September and October, covering more than 600 miles from Lake Itasca to Winona.
Why are they doing this?
The Adventure Stewardship Alliance explains that their mission is twofold: connect with nature and inspire people to be good stewards of wild places.
Their connection with nature is clear in many of the photos they take, like the gallery from their first five days on the Minnesota.
As far as inspiring stewardship, Twedt put it this way to the Duluth News Tribune:
"We want everybody to view adventuring and getting outdoors and experiencing place with a stewardship ethic. Where you are not only going out there to leave no trace, you are going out there to leave it better than you found it. Leaving a positive trace.''
You can keep up with the Three Rivers Project on the Adventure Stewardship Alliance Facebook page.