Cleaning Up the Winooski with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.
Last month I had the pleasure of traveling to Vermont to hang with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR) as they cleaned up the Winooski River. This weeklong event, hosted every year, allows employees to paddle and cleanup the river all while contributing to their community.
During my visit, I learned about the issues facing the Winooski including the flooding effects from Hurricane Irene. This epic flood washed many tires and other objects into the river while leaving many areas under water for days. In fact, the riverbank flooding was the worst since 1927.
Together with a local canoe guide from Umiak Outfitters who donate canoes for the cleanup each year, and GMCR employees, we spent the week out on the river surrounded by lush landscapes and morning fog soaked mountains. The beautiful landscape complemented our cleanup efforts to revive a river that is home to one of the most popular fisheries in the state.
By the end of the week, we removed 370 tires and over 2080 pounds of metal from the Winooski along with a tractor axel, trashcan, old plywood, and other random objects. The cleanup was a huge success for both recreational and clean water benefits for the Winooski. Additionally, the cleanup provided an avenue to engage the staff of GMCR with each other and with their local river. From those who had never been in a canoe before to veteran volunteers who have been helping to cleanup the Winooski for years, it’s hard to ignore the impacts of trash when you’re pulling it out of the river.
River cleanups are a great way to help your local community, improve your river, and interact with neighbors and colleagues. GMCR has been cleaning up the Winooski for 9 years and it was an honor to spend a week cleaning up a river with them. I had such an amazing time with the staff, working for a great cause all while celebrating summer in Vermont.
As a small stream ecologist, I am grateful for any opportunity to better connect people with their local rivers. We might not realize it, but in the United States most of us live less than a mile from a river. Think of all the cleanups that could happen! If you’re interested in hosting your own river cleanup, learn more and register on the National River Cleanup website.