Out & About: Volunteers Ready for Connecticut River Source to Sea Cleanup

  • Volunteers with some of the trash pulled from the Connecticut River during a past Source to Sea Cleanup. A number of volunteer groups have signed up to participate in the cleanup, set for Friday and Saturday, Sept. 22 and 23, 2017. To find a group, visit https://www.ctriver.org/our-work/source-to-sea-cleanup. (Photograph courtesy of Steve Aikenhead, CT River 4) Photograph courtesy of Steve Aikenhead

Valley News Calendar Editor
Published: 9/16/2017 10:00:18 PM
Modified: 9/16/2017 10:00:16 PM

The Connecticut River watershed encompasses 11,000 square miles in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. The river itself empties into the Long Island Sound after flowing 410 miles from the Quebec-New Hampshire border, making it the longest river in New England.

Its reach is one of the reasons why more than 2,000 volunteers in four states turn out every year during the annual Source to Sea Cleanup to pull trash from the river and its tributaries. This year’s cleanup will be held on Friday and Saturday.

Some 2,000-2,500 volunteers turn out every year, said Angela Mrozinski, outreach and events director for the Connecticut River Conservancy, which hosts the event. They tend to break into 100-150 groups,

“In New Hampshire and Vermont it’s a very long stretch of river,” she said. And while the river “does tend to stay a little cleaner up there,” Mrozinski said, that doesn’t mean that the work is any less important.

Roy Schiff, a water resource scientist at Milone and MacBroom in Waterbury, Vt., has been participating in the Source to Sea effort for five years and leads a volunteer group in Hanover.

“We’ve been working with the town and Dartmouth College with projects on Girl Brook,” he said. Girl Brook flows through Pine Park and the Hanover Country Club. “We like to give back to the communities that we work in.”

The engineering and environmental science firm has its headquarters in Cheshire, Conn., and an office in Springfield, Mass., among other locations. “We’re kind of in the whole basin,” he said.

Schiff said his group typically covers 3 to 4 miles and picks up about the same amount of trash every year.

“I think a lot of it is urban runoff,” he said.

In the last 20 years, Source to Sea volunteers have removed about 1,000 tons of trash from the watershed, which Mrozinski called a “conservative estimate.”

“It’s probably been more than that,” she said.

Each year, the 50 or so tons of trash collected “includes everything from bottles and cans and food wrappers all the way to tires and fuel tanks that might’ve gotten washed into the river during a flood,” Mrozinski said. Volunteers have sometimes even found old cars.

“We do everything from the teeny tiny to the very big,” she said. “Sometimes the worst spots are places that are tucked out of the way. It really kind of varies on where you are.”

And there’s a global benefit to picking up trash even in a relatively small area.

“You’re making an impact right here locally, in your neighborhood, but you’re also making an impact on the whole Connecticut River region,” Mrozinski said. “We’re preventing it from ever flowing downstream and out to the ocean.”

Editor’s note: To find an Upper Valley cleanup group to join, visit https://www.ctriver.org/our-work/source-to-sea-cleanup. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com.

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