QUINCY – Equipped with gloves, bags and garbage collectors, more than 400 people took to the banks of the Neponset River to clean up the garbage on Saturday morning.
The effort was one of the Neponset River Watershed Association’s two annual river clean-up events, association executive director Ian Cooke said. He helped lead a group of about 40 volunteers who cleaned up around Squantum Point, one of the 14 focus areas of the day in several communities.
As planes roared above and mosquitoes buzzed below, several dozen volunteers scoured muddy trails and rocky beaches to remove trash and large debris.
A trio walked together along part of the beach, trash bags in hand.
âLots of bottle caps and fragments of things like styrofoam and plastic,â volunteer Elaina Bliss said of the items they were collecting. “We found a pot, like a pot with a rusty bottom.”
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Another volunteer, Mike Fitman, held up a piece of Babe Ruth candy wrapper he had just found in the rocks on the beach.
Fitman and Bliss were joining their friend Carter Roche for their first cleanup at Squantum Point, but Roche said he had cleared other areas of the river before.
âThe last time I did it I was in a river in Mattapan and literally picked up 100 tires,â he said. “It was really, really fun, actually.”
Part of Squantum Point Park was once a naval air base, Cooke said, and some of the artefacts found around the park and now public trails may be rubbish and wood scraps from that era. Before the association started conducting its semi-annual cleanups about a decade ago, he said, there was a lot more bulky waste than today. Things like cars and shopping carts were cleaned from the grassy point.
âLegacy wasteâ still includes a lot of the things volunteers clean up, Cooke said, but the spill still occurs in some areas. Much of the work is now maintaining the area and keeping the banks along the river in order.
Deeper into the trails of Squantum Point, a group of AmeriCorps the members worked together to remove the wooden planks from the forest and build an orderly pile on the trails to be trucked.
The volunteers stacked long wooden bars, some with giant nails protruding from them, along the gravel path.
âWe have to do 80 hours of independent service projects,â said Vivi Feiser, community relations representative for AmeriCorps. âWhile we were here, we worked with the historical society and the Rotary club. “
The group quickly dealt with the littered wood, which Cooke said could either be a remnant of the naval air base or another spill shipment.
Clean-up efforts take place in the spring and fall. Cooke said last spring saw one of the biggest turnouts they’ve ever had.
For more information or to register, visit neponset.org/projects/river-cleanups.
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Contact Alex Weliever at [email protected].