“How long will my site stay clean? Forever, I hope.” Travel around Auburn and the Blackstone Valley, and you’ll notice cleaner waterways due to the hard work of many volunteers who pitched in on Sunday, April 17th, including the young person who made that wish.
Over 150 people participated in the Blackstone River Watershed Associations’s (BRWA) annual Earth Day Cleanup, which was sponsored this year by Savers Bank and Control Point Mechanical, Inc. Auburn became a member community of the John H. Chaffee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor in December 2014, nearly 30 years after the Blackstone Corridor was first recognized by Congress. At the time, town historian, Ken Ethier, commented, “Communities had to apply to become members when Congress forst founded [the Corrior]. Auburn never applied until now.”
You will be amazed, and no doubt disturbed, by the amount of trash they hauled out of our rivers, streams, ponds, wetlands, and shorelines.
This year’s cleanup took place at over 40 sites in 12 towns from Worcester to Blackstone. So what did all this hard work accomplish? In Auburn, volunteers removed nine bags of garbage from Auburn Pond, which is associated with Dark Brook and Kettle Brook – part of the Blackstone River watershed.
The tally for the overall BRWA Earth Day Cleanup included the following: 181 bags of trash, 38 tires, six mattresses, a couch, a futon, an uphoslterd chair, four micowaves, three TVs, two stereos, three toilets, a tub/shower enclosure, one weed wacker, a leaf blower motor, a car muffler, a car battery, many motor oil containers, six large metal drums, construction supplies, one bike, one life jacket, and two live shotgun shells. Amazing, and disturbing, right?
A six-year old participant commented, “It made me sad to see all the trash.”
Removing this trash keeps waterways open for fish and wildlife, and for paddlers and anglers. And it makes our environment more beautiful for all of us to appreciate. By removing potential sources of contamination, the BRWA cleanup also improves the water quality of the Blackstone River.
All this hard work deserved a reward. So volunteers gathered after the cleanup at the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park’s River Bend Farm Visitor Center in Uxbridge to enjoy pizza and refreshments provided by the BRWA. The BRWA would like to thank the following businesss for their donations: Market 32 in Sutton, Stop and Shop in Grafton, Shaws in Whitinsville, Hannaford’s in Uxbridge, and Uxbridge House of Pizza. In addition, the Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation and Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. provided valuable support to the 2016 Cleanup.
While at River Bend Farm, cleanup volunteers also were able to enjoy the Clean and Green Fair sponsored by Alternatives Unlimited, Inc. and the BRWA. There were displays and demonstrations about watershed protection, recycling and Terracycling, information on the Corridor’s “Trash Responsibly” campaign, seedling plantings donated by Schumacher Landscaping, and children’s activities.
One volunteer commented, “It was awesome. Not that there is so much trash—just that people were able to get it all!” But none of the amazing cleanup could have happened without the generous support of this year’s sponsors: Savers Bank, and Control Point Technology. The BRWA wants to express their deep appreciation to these businesses for their assistance.
The Blackstone River Watershed Association’s (BRWA) mission is to engage, educate, and advocate to improve water quality in the Blackstone River watershed. For more information on the organization and future cleanups, contact the BRWA at 508-278-5200 or www.thebrwa.org.