Tire dump to be local focus of river cleanup

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BRATTLEBORO — Local volunteers will be focusing their efforts on a tire dump on Spring Tree Road during this year's Source to Sea Cleanup.

Each fall, thousands of volunteers remove about 50 tons of trash along rivers, streams, parks, boat launches, trails and more.

The Source to Sea Cleanup is a two-day river cleanup coordinated by the Connecticut River Conservancy in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut. The 22nd annual cleanup is scheduled for Sept. 28 and 29.

In April of this year, Brattleboro resident and artist Teri Carter raised concerns about a tire dump in a marsh where the WTSA radio tower is located. Carter's concern led to the Connecticut River Conservancy putting the location on its list for cleanup this year.

"I am thrilled," said Carter. "I am so happy and so impressed how certain organizations have gotten together and organized volunteers and a strategy for removing as many tires as possible."

In 2017, volunteers with Source to Sea collected more than 1,400 tires, which are consistently found in the watershed and never break down in the environment. It's estimated that over 11 million waste tires are generated each year in the four states. Of those, nearly 600,000 remain unaccounted for and could be ending up in area rivers.

"It's time for tire producers to take greater responsibility for the tires they generate," stated Andrew Fisk, CRC Executive Director, in a press release. "Pushing the disposal cost to consumers is a recipe for illegal dumping."

CRC supports more widespread Extended Producer Responsibility programs as a solution to this problem. EPR programs lead to free, easy disposal of items such as tires, paint, mattresses, electronics and batteries, which eliminate or reduce the incentive for illegal dumping. EPR works by having producers be responsible for the proper recycling and reuse of their product. EPR programs have been successful across the country and the world to turn waste into a reusable commodity. These programs also include advanced market development, which can increase the value of post-consumer materials and provide opportunities for economic development.

"We all have a responsibility to solve this problem," stated Fisk. "We are responsible as consumers to make good choices in how we purchase and dispose of products. Manufacturers, businesses, and government are also responsible and must be held accountable. By working together, we can make a real difference for our rivers."

Over the past 22 years, Source to Sea Cleanup volunteers have removed more than 1,043 tons of trash from our rivers. CRC believes it's time for manufacturers, businesses, and government to do their part.

Eversource is the lead sponsor this year.

"It's great to be able to take action that makes a difference," stated Eversource President of Corporate Citizenship Rod Powell. "At Eversource we're always ready to roll up our sleeves because we believe actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to protecting and preserving our environment. So, we're pleased to be hitting our waterways with buckets, rakes and gloves in hand to help clean and preserve our natural heritage. Together with the folks at Source to Sea, we're in good company."

September is Vermont River Cleanup Month. Every year at this time, volunteers pull out hundreds of pounds of trash from Vermont's river banks and waterways. River cleanup activities vary depending on the location and accessibility of the river, ranging from picking up trash at popular swimming areas to using canoes and boats to remove larger items of trash from the river.

Watersheds United Vermont is a state-wide network of local groups dedicated to improving the health of their home watersheds. WUV's mission is to empower community-based watershed groups throughout the state to protect and restore Vermont's waters. For Vermont River Cleanup month, WUV is partnering with Connecticut River Conservancy's Source to Sea program and American Rivers.

To join a river cleanup this September, visit www.watershedsunitedvt.org/vtrivercleanup and learn more about cleanups in your area.

For more information about the Connecticut River Conservancy or to register for the event, visit www.ctriver.org/cleanup.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.

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