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Hundreds pitch in to clean the Green River

  • Volunteer Jay Bourque adds to the pile of tires collected during the 15th annual Green River Cleanup on Saturday at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area in Greenfield, Sept. 29, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Volunteer Neal Gifford tosses a bag of trash into the collection pile during the 15th annual Green River Cleanup on Saturday at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area in Greenfield, Sept. 29, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Connecticut River Conservancy technician Michael Pattavina removes a shopping cart to be added to the collection pile during the 15th annual Green River Cleanup on Saturday at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area in Greenfield, Sept. 29, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Volunteers collect a large pile of trash during the 15th annual Green River Cleanup on Saturday at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area in Greenfield, Sept. 29, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Green River Cleanup organizer John David Boles, right, and volunteer Garrett Connelly remove dozens of tires Saturday from the banks of the Green River near Riverside Drive in Greenfield, Sept. 29, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Green River Cleanup organizer John David Boles rests momentarily after pulling dozens of discarded tires up from the bank of the Green River near Riverside Drive in Greenfield, Sept. 29, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Volunteer Garrett Connelly helps remove dozens of tires Saturday from the banks of the Green River off of Riverside Drive in Greenfield, Sept. 29, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Green River Cleanup organizer John David Boles removes one of the dozens of tires discarded on the bank of the Green River near Riverside Drive in Greenfield, Sept. 29, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Volunteers unload their haul of trash collected during the 15th annual Green River Cleanup on Saturday at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area in Greenfield, Sept. 29, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • A temporary trash mandala is created from items collected during the 15th annual Green River Cleanup on Saturday at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area in Greenfield. Staff/Dan Little

  • Volunteer Jay Bourque adds to the pile of tires collected during the 15th annual Green River Cleanup on Saturday at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area in Greenfield, Sept. 29, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Volunteer Jay Bourque adds to the pile of tires collected during the 15th annual Green River Cleanup on Saturday at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area in Greenfield, Sept. 29, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Volunteers unload their haul of trash collected during the 15th annual Green River Cleanup on Saturday at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area in Greenfield, Sept. 29, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Volunteers unload their haul of trash collected during the 15th annual Green River Cleanup on Saturday at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area in Greenfield, Sept. 29, 2018. Staff/Dan Little



Staff Writer
Sunday, September 30, 2018

GREENFIELD — Approximately 20 tons of garbage lay on the ground, volunteers bustling about, organizing the rubber tires, discarded wrappers and other rubbish into neat piles.

Indeed, that’s how much trash was removed from the Green River and its tributaries over the course of just a few hours on Saturday.

As the source of about 35 percent of Greenfield residents’ water, it’s important to keep the Green River clean, and this annual event, the Green River Cleanup, now in its 15th year, certainly helps.

“This year has gone really well,” said David Boles, Green River Cleanup organizer who works for the Connecticut River Conservancy.

The Green River Cleanup is one leg of the Connecticut River Conservancy’s annual Source to Sea Cleanup, which looks to improve the water health of the Connecticut River watershed in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont each year.

According to Boles, it’s the collaborative nature of the effort that makes it a success.

“Everybody comes out, and everybody cares, that’s why they do it,” Boles said.

From students from the Four Rivers Charter Public School and Greenfield Middle School — who got a head start Friday collecting trash along the river’s bank — to the thirty sponsors of Saturday’s event, everybody was in it together.

Boles said homeless encampments along the river have grown numerous compared to past years, adding a new dimension to the cleanup. However, the homeless people were more than willing to help out, Boles said.

“There has been a lot of concerns about the homeless camps,” Boles said. “But they have been nothing but kind and respectful and helpful.”

Hundreds of volunteers scoured the Green River and its tributaries, including Wheeler Brook, before gathering for a pizza party and concert, featuring bands like the Equalites, at the Green River recreational area.

Alice Simmons stressed that the volunteers were not necessarily from Greenfield or even Franklin County, despite how vital the river is to local residents. Everyone, she said, should be invested in keeping the environment both beautiful and clean, even if they are from somewhere else.

“I think it is going awesome,” the Amherst resident said. “I’ve been especially impressed with this turnout. I don’t know Franklin County very well, but it was important to come.”

“My parents came from Rhode Island, we have someone from West Boylston too,” she added.

One feature of the event was the massive tire removal, during which hundreds of tires were removed from a nearby ravine that leads into the Green River.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office lent inmates and officers to help with the tire removal, and the fire department hosed down the tires. Year after year, Boles said, anywhere from 600 to 800 tires are removed, and the ravine started out with somewhere between 4,000 to 8,000 tires when the removals began three years ago, creating a potential health hazard.

Businesses, like the People’s Pint, also got involved in the weekend’s big cleanup.

Chris Sellers, brewery manager at People’s Pint, was selling the company’s Source to Sea Pale Ale, created a few years ago to show support for the event.

“It’s a great opportunity to partner up, clean up, have a beer,” said Sellers, adding that the company has supported other environmental efforts, like raising awareness of the short-nosed sturgeon and its declining population.

Sellers said he hopes the Green River Cleanup, which benefits all, continues to thrive.

“We want to raise awareness and spread the word,” Sellers said. “It’s important.”

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.