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Source to Sea, there’s trash everywhere to pick up

Annual river cleanup set for Saturday

Recorder/Paul Franz
Ray Purington is one of the organizers of the SourceTo Sea clean up on Sat Oct 5 holds a tire that was discarded along a river rd in Millers Falls.

Recorder/Paul Franz Ray Purington is one of the organizers of the SourceTo Sea clean up on Sat Oct 5 holds a tire that was discarded along a river rd in Millers Falls.

MILLERS FALLS — Who litters? Do-it-yourself mechanics, copper thieves, gardeners, enthusiasts of liquor, beer, sports drinks, tea, coffee; nearly every proclivity is represented in the refuse currently abandoned by the side of the road in a short stretch by the Millers River.

Cleaning up after this cross-section of humanity is the self-appointed responsibility of the Source to Sea river cleanup volunteers.

Ray Purington, also Gill’s town administrator, is one of a handful of volunteers who scout locations for the annual cleanup and coordinate the effort covering Gill, Erving, Montague and East Deerfield, one facet of the multi-state cleanup.

Along a hundred yards or so of Newton Street, Purington points out bottles, cans, tires, most of a television, a lot of broken glass and, lying in a collection of potting soil and rags, a bucket of what may be animal feces.

This street, secluded and wooded, is one of many popular with people dumping trash. This year it looks like there should be one truckload to haul away, he said, and it has consistently provided one or two truck loads in years past.

Also in evidence are packets of tea and coffee, plastic bags, a collection of plastic coating stripped from copper wire — with a few scraps of the less valuable aluminum wire left behind — and innumerable single-shot nip bottles.

Volunteers to pick up these items, and many others like them, as well as volunteers with pickup trucks to transport the refuse to the Montague Transfer Station are still needed for the Oct. 5 cleanup.

This is one of 15 to 20 sites in the area covered by the volunteers meeting at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls.

The cleanup stretches principally along the Connecticut River, but local organizers view it differently.

“We interpret it as a little broader: everything is part of a watershed somewhere,” Purington said.

The river banks themselves aren’t easily accessible in many areas to trash dumpers or cleanup volunteers, so volunteers clean where the trash is.

There are areas of the Connecticut where trash is known to wash up, and these will be targeted by boat. Purington said organizers try to match volunteers to sites, families with young children will be assigned to safe and accessible spots, others to the challenging areas.

Franklin County Technical School students in the landscaping and horticulture program typically handle the steep bank by the French King Bridge with ropes.

This is the 17th year of the effort locally. Over the past 16 years, 3,108 volunteers have filled 33.5 30-cubic-yard trash receptacles with litter from the Gill, Montague, Erving and associated areas alone, including approximately 18 tons of tires, according to organizer Elizabeth Bazler, not counting the Greenfield and Northfield area collections.

How to sign up

To sign up for the Oct. 5 cleanup in the Gill, Montague, East Deerfield and Erving area, call 800-859-2960 or email The cleanup ties up a few hours, from 9 a.m. to noon, and includes snacks. To register for cleanups elsewhere in the watershed, call 860-704-0057 or email

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

Home News Opinion Sports Arts & Entertainment Life & Times Marketplace Reader Services Thanks for this fantastic article about the Source to Sea Clean-up in the Gill-Montague area. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ray with his hand on a tire looking so clean!  Seriously, you covered exactly what needed to be shared in an entertaining and concise way. We really appreciate your time and effort in support of the event.

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