Franklin County Rivers Cleanup seeks volunteers to revitalize local waterways

  • Volunteers Peg Hall, left, and Becca Skelton make reusable bags at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area in Greenfield as part of the 2019 Source to Sea Cleanup. The cleanups have generated such overwhelming turnouts that last year, organizers decided to form the first Franklin County Rivers Cleanup, which on Friday and Saturday will encompass the 26th anniversary of the Connecticut River Conservancy’s Source to Sea Cleanup and the 19th Green River Cleanup, not to mention the Gill-Montague cleanup. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Volunteers Christine Turner, left, and Catherine Keppler work to sort through pieces for recycling as part of the 2019 Source to Sea Cleanup. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • State Sen. Jo Comerford, left, and Katie Hereld of Easthampton load a cart with waste during the 2021 Franklin County Rivers Cleanup. Staff File Photo/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Green River Cleanup organizer John David Boles hauls one of the dozens of tires discarded on the bank of the Green River during the 2018 event. RECORDER FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/21/2022 11:16:10 AM
Modified: 9/21/2022 11:15:32 AM

Phone books have been going the way of the dinosaurs. But not long ago, David Boles would have been able to get you 1,000 of them at once.

Boles, the coordinator of the annual Green River Cleanup, recalled volunteers finding the massive dump of print directories as he discussed this year’s effort to rid waterways of trash and debris. The cleanups have generated such overwhelming turnouts that last year, organizers decided to form the first Franklin County Rivers Cleanup, which on Friday and Saturday will encompass the 26th anniversary of the Connecticut River Conservancy’s Source to Sea Cleanup and the 19th Green River Cleanup, along with the Gill-Montague cleanup as well.

“About 35% of Greenfield’s water comes from the Green River. We literally are drinking it,” Boles said.

“The concern I have is, it goes from Grade A, high-quality water to extremely poor quality when it enters the Deerfield River” after having gone through Greenfield.”

Individual schools and businesses will take to the rivers and tributaries on Friday and the massive cleanup effort will take place the following day. Boles said volunteers will meet at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area on Nash’s Mill Road at 9 a.m. on Saturday to receive “marching orders.”

According to Boles, there are about 35 designated cleanup sites across Greenfield, in the tributaries and the surrounding watershed. A light breakfast and substantial lunch will be served, Boles said. Music will be provided by the Boys of the Landfill, and Four Phantoms Brewing Co. will operate a beer-tasting tent.

Twenty to 25 tons of debris are removed each year. Boles said volunteers have found and removed everything from miscellaneous trash to cars, motorcycles, lawnmowers, containers of gasoline and oil, propane tanks, couches and beds. A crate of six kittens was found about 11 years ago and each was later adopted.

In particular, Boles said, thousands of tires have been removed over the years.

“I think the river has been getting quite a bit of use, especially in the inner part of the city,” Boles said. “I think we’ve got a major homeless problem and people gravitate to the water … and I think the Green River is fairly convenient because it runs right through the city.”

Boles said volunteers are also needed to help sort and recycle some of the items that are removed from the river.

The watershed is littered with empty bottles of varying sizes, said Boles, who backs a new Massachusetts Bottle Bill that would increase from 5 cents to 10 cents the amount people receive for recycling bottles and cans. The refund value has not been updated since the bill was implemented in 1983.

Oregon’s refund value is 10 cents, and Boles said the increase has had a tremendous impact on the state. Connecticut will also see a hike in the near future.

How to volunteer

Visit ctriver.org/cleanup to register, join a group, form a group or become a sponsor in the Franklin County Rivers Cleanup. Interested participants can also call Source to Sea Cleanup Coordinator Stacey Lennard at 413-772-2020, ext. 211.

Reach Domenic Poli at dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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