SAXTONS RIVER >> Twenty years ago, a gallon of gas cost $1.22, Prince Charles and Princess Diana had just divorced, and the United States hosted the summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Here in New England the Connecticut River Watershed Council organized the first Source to Sea Cleanup. This annual event has now grown into New England's largest river cleanup. CRWC and volunteers will continue the tradition of getting their hands dirty and their feet wet for cleaner rivers at the 20th annual Source to Sea Cleanup on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24.
"Source to Sea Cleanup volunteers have worked hard to combat litter and illegally dumped trash," said Alicea Charamut, CRWC River Steward and organizer of the Cleanup. "Their hard work and dedication is inspiring and makes a real difference for our rivers."
The annual Source to Sea Cleanup is a two-day river cleanup coordinated by CRWC in all four states of the 410-plus mile Connecticut River basin, mobilizing thousands of volunteers of all ages and abilities to clean the Connecticut River and its tributaries on foot or by boat. Volunteers remove trash along rivers, streams, parks, boat launches, trails and more.
There are three ways for volunteers to get involved in the Cleanup this year: report a trash site in need of cleaning, find a cleanup group near you to join, or organize and register your own local cleanup group. For more information or to register for the event, visit www.ctriver.org/cleanup.
In 2015, more than 2,300 volunteers hauled over 50 tons of trash from riverbanks and waterways in the four watershed states. Volunteers remove everything from recyclables, fishing equipment and food waste to tires, televisions, and refrigerators. To date, volunteers have kept more than 947 tons of trash from polluting our rivers.
"Some really unbelievable things have been pulled from our rivers, including a cement mixer, parking meters, propane tanks and junk cars," noted Charamut. This year, CRWC will continue cleaning up the many thousands of tires dumped along the Deerfield River in Greenfield, Mass., will remove an abandoned oil off-loading platform in the Connecticut River in Wethersfield, Conn., and remove a 3,000 gallon tank submerged in the Connecticut River near Wilgus State Park in Vermont.
"Financial support from lead sponsors — NRG Energy's Middletown Generating Station, Pratt & Whitney, TransCanada, and Whistler — enable us to organize the thousands of volunteers who participate in the Cleanup. Their support allows us to take on complex projects that require the use of heavy equipment, scuba divers and other professionals to get those really trashed places cleaned up," said CRWC Executive Director Andrew Fisk.
"This is the 11th year we have proudly supported CRWC's Source to Sea event," said Matthew Cole, Community Relations for TransCanada. "With our thirteen hydropower stations along the Connecticut and Deerfield Rivers, we are inextricably linked to these incredible resources and their stewardship."
"NRG is pleased to be involved with the Source to Sea Cleanup for the 12th year," notes David Gaier, NRG Senior Director Communications. "Our Middletown Station team of some 15 volunteers, led by NRG's Keith Shortsleeve, again looks forward to making a positive difference by cleaning up Dart Island and the surrounding Connecticut River shoreline."
If your group wants to get involved but needs a cleanup site, if you have questions, or if you know of a trash site in need of cleaning, contact CRWC's Cleanup Coordinator Alicea Charamut at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-704-0057. Learn more about the event at www.ctriver.org/cleanup.
The Connecticut River Watershed Council works to protect the watershed from source to sea. As stewards of this heritage, we celebrate our four-state treasure and collaborate, educate, organize, restore and intervene to preserve its health for generations to come. Our work informs our vision of economic and ecological abundance.