BRATTLEBORO -- This weekend will mark the 17th installation of a community project with a global impact.
The Source to Sea Cleanup, organized by the Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC), is an annual event for trash pickup along the Connecticut River and its tributaries held on Oct. 4 and 5 in the four states that touch the watershed. Groups of registered volunteers roll up their sleeves and clean up the sections of the river and remove as much trash and debris as possible. There will be groups working under the Anna Hunt Marsh Bridge, linking Brattleboro to Hinsdale, N.H., and in Saxtons River, as well as various other spots in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
"A really great event. There is a ton of trash in the river, unfortunately. It's an on-going problem," said Angela Mrozinski, the CRWC's outreach and events director. "(Volunteers) really make an impact in their local community, as well as the whole river."
She said there are 80 registered groups made up of 2,000 people who will get their hands dirty from northern Vermont and New Hampshire down the river's roughly 410 miles to the Long Island Sound. She said 70 percent of the water in the Long Island Sound comes from the Connecticut River -- the longest in New England -- and any trash or debris picked up by volunteers is guaranteed not to get washed downstream and into the sound, the Atlantic Ocean and the large floating garbage patches around the world. The cleanup is part of the larger National Estuaries Week, a national effort to raise awareness of the importance of protecting estuaries, as well as a partnership with Save the Sound, the International Coastal Cleanup and American Rivers' National River Cleanup.
According to a statement from the CRWC, trash pollution of rivers is a major problem for human and wildlife communities and about 806 tons of trash have been removed from the river as part of Source to Sea Cleanups to date. Cleanup Coordinator and River Steward Jacqueline Talbot said healthy rivers are important because they contribute much to the economies and beauty of various communities.
Estuaries also provide natural barriers that act as buffers against storms and floods.
"The Source to Sea Cleanup is a hands-on event involving community groups of all kinds and all sizes," Talbot said. "It's a positive way for residents to have direct impact in their community, the health of the river and the Long Island Sound."
According to the statement, the CRWC uses data about collected trash to advocate for policy changes, such as recycling legislation in Connecticut.
Mrozinski said anyone interested in joining a registered group can visit www.ctriver.org, where there will be option to sign up for the cleanup. There is a list of cleanup groups by state and a map with pins showing where each of the 80 groups will be working. The Source to Sea Cleanup is open to all ages and abilities, though all volunteers must complete a waiver form to participate. There is one for adults and one for children.
Mrozinski said people are welcome to try to create their own groups, but at this point the CRWC will be unable to provide them with supplies. She said this is the first year the cleanup will be a two-day event.
Volunteers working under the Anna Hunt Marsh Bridge will meet at the train station parking lot (36 Bridge St.) at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5. Gloves, trash bags and refreshments will be provided. Not all volunteer jobs that day include picking up trash because sorters, recorders and organizers are also needed. For more information, contact the Windham Regional Commission's Dinah Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-257-4547, ext. 109.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.