Franklin County Rivers Cleanup coming this weekend

  • Volunteers Joshua Sonntag, left, and Bill Ashley work to remove trash from the banks of the Green River as part of the 2019 Source to Sea Cleanup in Greenfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Volunteers from PV Squared, from left, Aric Lively Savage, Toby Moran and Craig Lakas work to remove sections of a collapsed building as part of the 2019 Source to Sea Cleanup along the Green River in Greenfield.

Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2021 4:48:57 PM

The annual cleanups of waterways have been met with such turnout that organizers decided to form the first Franklin County Rivers Cleanup this weekend.

“The intent is to open up the cleanup to all the rivers and watersheds in Franklin County,” explained coordinator David Boles. “The interest is increasing for cleanups to begin happening all over Franklin County.”

The Franklin County Rivers Cleanup encompasses the 25th anniversary of the Connecticut River Conservancy’s Source to Sea Cleanup and the 18th Green River Cleanup, as well as the Gill-Montague cleanup.

“We are in need of people to sign up and to choose sites,” Boles said. “We’re hoping we get a large crowd. We’re asking people to bring their own water, long pants, (shirts with) sleeves and closed-toed shoes.”

Visit bit.ly/3hY5wlr to register for the cleanup, report a problem site or become a sponsor. You can also call 413-772-2020, ext. 211. Rakes, shovels, ropes, trucks and come-alongs are needed. The Franklin County Rivers Cleanup from Sept. 24 to 26 is sponsored by the Connecticut River Conservancy, the Deerfield River Watershed Association and Greenfield’s Department of Public Work.

Boles said 20 to 25 tons of debris are removed each year. He said there is always plenty of miscellaneous trash and volunteers have been known to find lawnmowers, motorcycles, cars, truck tires, gasoline cans and cans of toxic oils. Boles said a crate of kittens was found about 10 years ago and each of the little felines got a forever home.

Erving resident Beth Bazler, who works for FirstLight Power, which owns two hydro-electric dams in Turners Falls, helps organize the Gill-Montague cleanup. She said 20 to 40 yards of trash is typically collected and taken to the Montague Transfer Station.

“It’s been a really great project that helps improve things in the valley in a great way. I get to hang out with the coolest people, because they want to pick up other people’s trash,” she said with a laugh. “We have these people who are willing to commit their free time so we can really improve things in our area.”

Bazler said she typically sees 100 to 200 volunteers, adding that two high school friends in their 90s rally their children and grandchildren to help each year.

“Every year we get new people,” Bazler said. “There’s just a core of very caring people who live along the river and realize what an amazing resource it is for everyone, and they want to make it a better place.”

Former state Rep. Denise Andrews said the Lake Mattawa Association in Orange is planning a cleanup of its own on Saturday. Volunteers are asked to bring their own masks and gloves, and meet at the boat ramp at the north end of Lake Mattawa at 9 a.m.

Boles, who lives on the Green River and uses it daily when he can, said he grew up in New York’s Niagara County, one of the most polluted in the United States.

“You can’t drink the water, you can’t eat the fish and you can’t swim in the rivers,” he said, adding that he was amazed when he moved to New England. “I had never swam in crystal-clear river water before in my life. I don’t think many people have.”

He said water is pristine when it flows into Greenfield. The problem is it turns into poor quality as it runs through town before entering the Deerfield River.

Schools and businesses will help out on Friday. Then on Saturday, volunteers will convene at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area on Nash’s Mill Road for the Green River Cleanup from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Boles said a light breakfast and lunch will be served, and participants will be asked to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Reach Domenic Poli at:
dpoli@recorder.com or
413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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