Expert says this is worst winter in terms of trash under snow

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- We saw temperatures in the low to mid FIFTIES on Monday, March 10th -- and it was quite the reprieve from our bitterly cold winter. Though many of us were happy for the warmth on Monday -- the downside to all the snow melting is we are starting to see what's underneath it, and it's not pretty.

FOX6 News spoke with a non-profit organization that takes responsibility for cleaning up much of the city. Officials with the organization say they're seeing more trash than normal.

In fact, they say this is the worst they've seen.

At 14th and McKinley Monday, Jeff Beckmann shoveled away more than slush and ice.

"Everything from cereal boxes to cartons of ice cream," Beckmann said.

Inside the snowy mess left by nature is all the debris scattered by people -- seemingly tossed aside as they passed through the neighborhood.

City officials say the trash cleanup is still weeks away. The ground temperature needs to be above freezing before mechanical street sweepers come out.

That's because if they were to bring the machines out now, water used by the machines will just make more ice.

Joe Wilson mobilizes 50,000 volunteers every year to clean up Milwaukee's streets. He showed a FOX6 News crew the trash emerging from snow just outside his office.

"Cigarette butts just pretty much everywhere, where people just flick 'em and throw 'em, to where people will just come and dump stuff," Wilson said.

Wilson spent his Monday morning surveying garbage on the streets and came to this conclusion:

"This year by far has been the worst," Wilson said.

Wilson says during mild winters, volunteers can get out and do cleanup in between snowfalls. This year, that hasn't been possible, so the trash kept piling up.

"Tremendous amount of bags and bottles," Wilson said.

Wilson has volunteers scheduled to go out this upcoming weekend, but he says the weather could postpone things.

Still, he has reason to be optimistic.

"Today we received over 50 applications online with people just expressing interest that it's time to clean up," Wilson said.

Wilson is with the Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful organization. He hopes to have volunteers out in full swing by the end of March.

As for the city, this weekend is usually the time when the street sweepers start coming out.

City officials are keeping tabs on temperatures and have pushed that back a week.