Conn. River cleanup efforts persist in pandemic 

  • A sign to stop trash before it starts at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area during the 23rd annual Source to Sea Cleanup in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 15, 2020

AMHERST — During a typical year, a weekend day in late September would serve as the time for a thorough cleanup of trash dumped along tributaries to the Connecticut River.

In the midst of the pandemic, though, while the effort is still taking place, it is being spread out as a monthlong project to ensure volunteers can socially distance.

The Fort River Watershed Association, which advocates on behalf of the 15-mile long tributary that goes through Amherst, Hadley, Belchertown, Pelham and Shutesbury , is encouraging volunteers to get out when they can to remove debris, especially the plastic pollution that ends up in the waterway.

Will Daniels, a postdoctoral fellow in geological sciences at the University of Massachusetts, explained the concerns in a commentary he wrote.

“This plastic waste is not without harmful effects, which generally fall into four categories: ingestion, wildlife entanglement, leakage of toxic additives into the water, and recreation hazards,” Daniels wrote.

Daniels noted that last year’s cleanup filled more than a municipal dumpster with bottles, plastic bags and Styrofoam.

Brian Yellen, a member of the watershed association, said the hope is volunteers will go to various spots along the river as part of the project.

People can go to fortriver.org/cleanup to register and learn more about the cleanup.

In addition, the Connecticut River Conservancy’s “Source to Sea” cleanup is happening all September. More information about that work is available at ctriver.org.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.