Editorial: Keeping our watershed beautiful

  • Volunteers Peg Hall, left, and Becca Skelton, 11, make reusable bags at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area in Greenfield as part of the 23rd annual Source to Sea Cleanup in 2019. This year, participants are asked to create their own groups instead of joining others. STAFF file PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Published: 8/28/2020 3:30:13 PM
Modified: 8/28/2020 3:30:03 PM

From the apex of the precipice atop Mount Sugarloaf, the Connecticut River curves toward the horizon like a glistening seam, holding together a patchwork of farmland. It’s the main artery of the region’s watershed, sustaining crops and fueling many sectors of Franklin County’s economy including a burgeoning recreation industry.

The watershed is a vital resource that needs to be cared for. Thankfully, there are plenty of willing volunteers.

“It’s a beautiful lake, and we want to keep it that way,” said Terry Singer, of Greenfield, about Lake Mattawa in Orange. Singer is a member of the UMass Master’s Swim Team. Typically, the team swims at a pool at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. For most of this summer, however, members have been swimming the perimeter of Lake Mattawa four to five times a week.

Last week, the team joined community members for the lake’s yearly cleanup day. About a dozen people carried trash bags and picked up bottles and cans, cigarettes, filament and other plastics along Lake Mattawa and Holtshire roads.

Anderwood Lane residents Frank Citino and his wife, Karen Traub, said it’s “shocking” how much trash they find around the lake on their regular walks. The pair pick up trash on their walks, and Citino dives for the plastic worms that have accumulated at the bottom of the lake.

It’s not glamorous work, but it’s certainly appreciated by anyone who has taken a morning walk along the shoreline or taken in a sunset from the top of Mount Sugarloaf.

Without volunteers like those who participated in the recent cleanup, Lake Mattawa wouldn’t be the beautiful place that it is.

This weekend there will be another opportunity to beautify the region’s watershed. The 24th Source to Sea Cleanup, which annually brings together thousands of volunteers to pick up trash up and down the Connecticut River and its subsidiaries, will kick off this weekend. Every year, more than 2,800 volunteers fan out over 174 miles from the Canadian border to the Long Island Sound for the cleanup, spearheaded by the Connecticut River Conservancy.

Pandemic or not, this year will be no different.

Typically, the cleanup is held over one weekend. Because of the ongoing pandemic, the conservancy is taking social distancing precautions. Instead of one weekend, it will be held during the entire month of September. Participants are asked to create their own groups instead of joining others. To find a cleanup site and sign up, visit ctriver.org/our-work/source-to-sea-cleanup.




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