SAXTONS RIVER -- The more than 400 miles of the Connecticut River and its tributaries are now cleaner of trash thanks to the hard work of more than 2,200 dedicated residents and Source to Sea Cleanup volunteers. On Oct. 4 and 5, the volunteers from businesses, faith communities, watershed groups, schools, and youth organizations grabbed trash bags and work gloves for the Source to Sea Cleanup, organized by the Connecticut River Watershed Council. This year, 124 Cleanup groups participated in all four states of the watershed from North Stratford, N.H., near the Canadian border all the way down to the mouth of the river in Old Saybrook, Conn.

"While removing trash is important, the Source to Sea Cleanup is about more than that," said Jacqueline Talbot, Cleanup Coordinator. "The cleanup is about strengthening community and allowing people to take meaningful action to improve their neighborhoods. When people help clean their rivers, they make connections with each other and their rivers. Those connections have benefits lasting well beyond the cleanup."

Interesting items pulled from the river this year include a large "Dam Ahead" warning sign, found just below the Turners Falls Dam in Massachusetts by Deerfield Academy students. More than 8,400 plastic bottles were reported to be pulled from rivers, along with no less than 24 shopping carts. At least 464 tires, a full truck bed, four batteries, and more than 40 cans of motor oil were also found and removed.Lane Construction Corporation, a lead sponsor of the cleanup, donated equipment and staff to remove large debris from along the Green River in Massachusetts and Vermont, including the metal remains of an old pedestrian bridge.

For 17 years, the Watershed Council has organized the Source to Sea Cleanup, the biggest single-day river cleanup in New England. Based in Greenfield, Mass., CRWC has been a nonprofit advocate for the 11,000 square-mile watershed of the Connecticut River since 1952.