One of the great assets of Johnson County, Kansas, is the Indian/Tomahawk Creek Bike and Hike Trail System.

The two creeks flow east-north east through the heart of the county and converge near Leawood Park. Alongside both creeks for much of their length runs a well used and well maintained biking and hiking trail. The creeks themselves, however, specifically the banks, are not well maintained at all. Truth be told, they are a downright mess.

They have been a mess for an inexplicably long time. On August 5 this past summer Johnson County was hit with a major rainstorm that caused both creeks to overflow. The water receded, but much of the debris did not. It clung to the branches along the creeks and clings to those branches to this day.

The same debris has been in place for the last for the last eight months.

This is not a pretty sight. Rags, plastic bags, and other miscellaneous items are visible from just about any angle of either creek. In the winter months, without any greenery to provide cover, the trash clings to the branches as a visible testament to community inaction.

There is a curious breakdown here. A problem this visible and this easy to solve should have been addressed eight months ago. A group of do-gooders with waders and reachers could clean up a big swath of either creek in a day. It may be that likely parties–Boy Scouts, are you listening?–have grown too accustomed to letting government do all the dirty work. The government, in the form of Johnson County Parks & Recreation, may be waiting for volunteers to step up. Whatever the cause, no one has done much of anything.

Young people who want “hands on” work during Earth Day could start by pulling the trash off the bushes along the creeks.

The Sierra Club has organized clean-ups in the past and may have one planned this year, but if so, the clean-up is not posted on the club’s calendar. Under the heading “take action,” the club lists two items “legislative action” and “Join the Lobby Corps.” Neither one of those will make the trail system any more presentable.

Earth Day, April 21, would seem a likely opportunity to clean up the entire trail system. Instead of the “Earth Day 5K Run/Walk,” for instance, participants might join in for a “100-Yard Creek Wade and Debris Clean Up.”

Science City is sponsoring “hands-on, interactive science activities, demos, workshops and more featuring . . . our Earth!” The folks at Science City would do better to march their charges out to the creeks and have them do some real “hands on” work. If young people want to get acquainted with “our Earth” there is no better place to start than with . . . our earth.

The headline image is a stock photo.

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