Saturday, May 1, 2010

Housatonic River Cleanup

Perfect weather for the annual Housatonic River Cleanup, a multi-city effort organized by John Valentino and, in Shelton, Leon Sylvester Jr. , and lots of help from area marinas and businesses. We showed up around 10:00 am at Sunnyside Boat launch and found the event tent next door at Ayers Landing Marina. The event started at 8:00 am and the free T-shirts had been picked over, so I got a leftover from 2009.

Boats were taking people out to the islands and distant shorelines, and bring back the collected garbage. Our timing was bad and we had to wait about 20 minutes for the oyster boat that would take us to our destination. It was nice boat ride and we passed some rowing crews in their sleek red racers.

We passed lots of people who had been picking up litter for a couple hours already.

We were dropped off at Two Island Island, which is actually a peninsula that has been used as a gravel quarry for quite some time. Our shore was jagged boulders with rebar jutting out randomly - a treacherous shoreline. But we set to work.

The boulders, the huge poison ivy vine my daughter mistook for a tree, pricker bushes, and incoming tide made for very slow cleaning. There were three of us and it took a good hour to collect just three bags of litter.

How much easier it would be for people to pick up this litter when it is still on the streets! Because that's where it all comes from: Street litter is washed into storm drains during heavy rains, and from there it flows straight into our streams, eventually making its way to Long Island Sound. I'm always surprised at how many people think stormwater goes to a treatment plant.

On a random note: See all that "bamboo" debris in the photo above? It's Japanese Knotweed stalks, an invasive species.

Around lunch time the oyster boat came back to pick us and our garbage up (it was a challenge getting back in the boat!). Almost all the non-crew volunteers were from Shelton High School.

After dropping off passengers at the dock, the oyster boat went to the boat launch to drop off the garbage. Six-Foot subs were on the way, but we had things to do and took off.

This is how much had already been collected by lunchtime, with another four hours of clean-up to go.

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