Clean Up Time for Our Local River

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By Gina Snyder

Each year for the past 15 years, I’ve celebrated National Trails Day – first Saturday in June – by participating in a river clean up. It gives me a chance to get the winter cobwebs out of my canoe and enjoy the river in the company of hard-working friends.

I live north of Boston near the Ipswich River, once designated as the Third Most Endangered River in America by the advocacy group American Rivers. The Ipswich River was endangered by water withdrawals which have since been reduced, and the river has made a good recovery in the last six years. But this quiet little waterway continues to be plagued by litter.

Every day trash makes its way into the river, and you can see the build-up, particularly around bridges. Why people send their trash sailing out the windows of their cars as they approach and pass over a bridge, I will never understand. So each year, when our local stream team sponsors its clean up, my husband and I dust off our canoe, grab some trash bags and gloves, and set out on the river to help with the clean up.

I also spend one Sunday morning a month monitoring some simple water quality parameters at the river. And I always bring a bag to pick up the monthly accumulation of trash around the bridge.

I find lots of small and some large, liquor bottles, beer and beverage cans, water bottles, and fast food wrappers, cups and bags, and cigarette packs. For several months in a row, I found several pairs of clean, white, sock liners (peds) each month! That might have been the strangest littering I’ve come across.

So, Please, Don’t Litter! Trash is unsightly; it gets into our waterways and presents a danger to the critters that rely on the waterway for food and water. But you can also pitch in, in a good way, by joining in a clean-up.

There are lots of ways to participate in National Trails day next Saturday. The Appalachian Mountain Club and other organizations list opportunities to make the outdoors more accessible and more welcoming on the national trails day website. Take a look and see how you can pitch in.

More EPA information on Trash and Recycling

About the author: Gina Snyder works in the Office of Environmental and Compliance Assistance at EPA New England and has been a volunteer river monitor on the Ipswich River, where she also picks up trash every time she monitors the water quality.


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