RUBBISH ALONG THE RIVER: Volunteers collect all sorts of detritus in and along the Delaware River, including dozens of tires.
By Anne Levin
For the past four years, volunteers for the Delaware River Cleanup have been tackling the litter that accumulates, particularly during summer months, along the Delaware River. They find bottles, cans, leftover picnic items, chairs, and lots of tires. Last year, more than 250 participants picked up more than 100 bags of trash.
This year’s cleanup, for which volunteers are sought, is September 17 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sponsored by the Delaware River Greenway Partnership (DRGP) in collaboration with New Jersey Clean Communities and the New Jersey Park Service, the event will stretch from shoreline in Holland Township, Hunterdon County down to Duck Island at the Abbott Marshlands, in Hamilton Township. A boat-based cleanup will also be underway.
“This is a huge problem, especially in summer,” said Stephanie Fox, resource interpretive specialist for New Jersey Parks, Forests, and Historic Sites. “All of the riverfront areas have been heavily utilized by the public. Most people are responsible and they clean up after themselves. But the small amount who aren’t — it’s a struggle for our staff to keep up with them.”
Fox said some of the material floats down from upstream. “You never know what’s going to end up flowing down the river from storm events,” she said. “We find tires, tubes, that kind of thing.”
This year, the DRGP is hosting cleanups at 17 public river accesses. Volunteers will be given gloves, trash bags, and bug spray. A group leader will be in charge at each section. “There are some things we don’t want people picking up with their hands,” said Fox.
Everyone who helps out will get a fifth anniversary T-shirt. Each spot to be cleaned will have about 20 volunteers. “People can go to the website and adopt the area where they want to volunteer,” Fox said.
A small contingency will work from boats, canoes, or kayaks. “But only those who have prior boating experience can do that,” Fox said. “On the Pennsylvania side, they will go out with a canoe club leader and clean up the islands in the river. There is a lot of stuff that’s been stuck and sitting there for a long time.”
“The increase in river users seen during the pandemic demonstrates the value of our natural resources for recreation,” said J.R. Fisher, president of the DRGP. “This immeasurable value requires all of us to be committed to the stewardship required to maintain the quality of these resources. This cleanup is especially important for all the municipalities along and near the Delaware River Scenic Byway (Route 29). We hope local residents will donate a few hours of their time to help restore and steward the Delaware River.”
To register, visit https://bit.ly/delawarecleanup22.