Guest blog by Hackensack Riverkeeper Outreach Coordinator, Caitlin Doran.
The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” has become a little worn these days. At Hackensack Riverkeeper, we prefer, “a pictures is worth a thousand pounds of trash.”
The winning National River Cleanup® photo contest picture was just one moment that was part of many great river cleanups. The 2017 photo captures how hard working and dedicated volunteers are to cleaning up local waterways. American Rivers continues to support this idea with National River Cleanup, an initiative that provides much needed support to our organization and others like it.
In a given river cleanup season, dedicated volunteers like Anton Getz remove upwards of 15 tons of trash and debris from our 210 square mile watershed. They do this in extreme cold, heat, and sometimes-rainy weather, working in places as far north as Lake DeForest in Rockland County, NY, all the way down to the Newark Bay from the peninsula of Bayonne, NJ. Hackensack Riverkeeper volunteers are the boots on the ground (literally), cleaning up our most important natural resources – like the Meadowlands, the kidneys of our river and one of the most important estuarine environments on the East Coast, and the reservoirs that provide us with our drinking water.
This particular river cleanup took place at Woodcliff Lake Reservoir in Woodcliff Lake, NJ – part of the drinking water system for close to 1 million people. Volunteers are always surprised to find such a litany of litter threatening their drinking water supply, and these cleanups continue to open our eyes to the way non-point litter reaches even the most sensitive parts of our watershed. Thanks to volunteers like Anton, we are getting ahead of the trash in many parts of our watershed, as we work to be the upstream solution to river and marine pollution!
With the help of National River Cleanup we were able to get the word out about our cleanup and have trash bags to supply volunteers with. Every season we are able to organize cleanups and register them through their site alongside other cleanups going on around the country. After submitting cleanup photos for the National River Cleanup photo contest we were ecstatic to hear that our photo had made it to the voting round and even more excited when we were announced as the winners.
This spring, we’ll be returning to Woodcliff Lake Reservoir to undo more environmental damage. Join us! If you live in New Jersey and would like to know more about the work of Hackensack Riverkeeper, please call 201-968-0808 or email Caitlin at [email protected]. See you at the river!