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19th Annual RiverSweep Spans Two Days, Four Towns

19th Annual RiverSweep Spans Two Days, Four Towns

posted Thursday, September 13, 2018

Since 2000, volunteers with the Black River Action Team have gathered at the end of each summer to paddle, wade, pull, reach, walk, and grapple with trash of all kinds in an effort to clean up the Black River.

On Saturday, September 8th, Springfield Sweepers spread across town and reeled in a handful of shopping carts, 35 bags of trash, loads of cans and bottles (some of which went to the Springfield Redemption Center to be donated to the BRAT), and bag full of fishing waste from the public access at Hoyt's Landing (most of which was recovered from the LineKeeper unit installed by BRAT several years ago). Oddball items included a pair of crutches, a plastic lawn chair, a cell phone, and dirty diaper (eww!). A paddling crew worked from the Family Center in North Springfield on down to the Shopping Plaza and hauled out dozens of tires, a bicycle, an empty fuel tank, and a very heavy lawnmower deck, among other things.

A small crew of BRAT volunteers worked with the US Army Corps of Engineers clearing junk from the water and banks at North Springfield Lake on the 8th, retrieving two tires, a five-gallon bucket, multiple plastic bottles and chunks of styrofoam, a couple of lighters, and numerous tennis balls (proof positive that the lakeshore by the flood control dam is a popular dog-walking site), among other pieces of trash. They also searched for, found, and removed one invasive water chestnut plant, an aquatic invasive species.

Other areas covered include the Tolles Dam swimming area in Perkinsville, the Toonerville Trail, the bank near Riverside Middle School, the top of the bank behind businesses on River Street and those along Clinton Street.

All Springfield volunteers were welcomed back for handwashing and free hot dogs (grilled to perfection by Tom Ross of Springfield Realty Corp, the fine folks who own and operate the Shopping Plaza), plus bags of munchies donated by Deep River Snacks.

On Monday, September 10th, students from both the Cavendish Area and Ludlow elementary schools ventured forth under looming clouds to work on the banks of the Black River in their communities as part of the annual BRAT RiverSweep. The crews included students as well as parents, teachers, and adult volunteers; Ludlow students began Sweeping behind the fire station but found the biggest "haul" behind the Shaw's shopping plaza. They collected many plastic bags, cans and bottles, metal pipes, and loads of candy wrappers. A passerby noticed them working and stopped to heap praise and encouragement on the hard-working kids.

The Cavendish crew worked at Cavendish Gorge swimming area and at Greven Field, both sites are monitored by BRAT "River Dippers," as part of the water quality monitoring program. The kids and volunteers from the Cavendish Historical Society and from the Town of Cavendish collected at least four tires, 30 bags of trash, buckets of sharp glass and metal, and several big sheets of plastic. The Cavendish crew enjoyed delicious pizza donated by Goodman's American Pie in Ludlow.

Every volunteer received a complimentary tee shirt, printed by Clever Cow Designs of Springfield, to commemorate their hard work. All 2018 supporters are listed on the back of every shirt; BRAT director Kelly Stettner hopes everyone will take a moment to thank anyone they see wearing one of the brightly-colored shirts, and to scan the list on the back - the businesses and organizations are numerous, and each has earned a special thank you from the communities they serve.

There is plenty still to do, new partnerships to develop, and lots of excitement generated for future Sweeps. For more information about the organization, learn how you can help or donate, check out the website at or contact Kelly Stettner at [email protected] or leave a message at (802) 738-0456.

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