As part of the BRAT river clean-up team, Steve Matush and Barbara Burns paddle their haul to shore.
Submitted by Kelly Stettner
The Black River Action Team, a grassroots organization driven by volunteer elbow-grease and community support, has been cleaning trash from the bed and banks of the Black River since 2000, growing every year in numbers of volunteers as well as trash collected. This year, over 90 volunteers hauled out nearly 1,000 pounds of scrap metal alone between Springfield, Ludlow, and Weathersfield; enough garbage was retrieved to fill 75 trash bags.
Shocking orange tee shirts were the order of the day as kids of all ages, entire families, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, individuals, first-timers, old-timers, passers-by and paddlers all stepped up to become BRATs on Saturday, September 8th. The scene in Ludlow: Sue and Margo excavated dozens of cans and bottles from what Sue called “an ancient Indian drinking ground” along the Black River in Ludlow, stopping to pitch tires and metal junk into a pile. Arlene and Arlette teamed up with Allan to wrestle a children’s swimming pool, an aluminum clothesline spinner, an assortment of rusted metal pipes, and half a skateboard from the muddy banks next to the Black River Mobile Home Park. Robin helped set up the HQ table, direct volunteers, and hand out supplies. Cirrus strolled by the Ludlow HQ table with his ukelele, asking where he could be of help. Heather dropped by with helpers to unload a polka-dot pickup truck bed full of assorted smelly junk hauled out of the Black River in Weathersfield by her Scout troop. Bruce drove up with trailer in tow, ready to haul junk to the transfer station in concert with Allan. Pizza for the northern crew was graciously provided by Ludlow Village Pizza, before they lost power due to the high winds. Springfield was no different when it came to the commitment of helpers: In addition to the 45 other volunteers who donated their time and sweat on Saturday morning, a horde of football players descended on the riverbanks in Springfield, hauling out shopping carts, old tires, and a variety of sopping scrap. Among the odd items recovered: a television, a little box, lawn chairs, coils of wire, a small fire extinguisher, a canopy frame, and a plastic traffic barrier. One volunteer even found an empty jar of wrinkle-remover creme; the tally includes 19 shopping carts, 8 tires, a baby stroller, assorted household and fast-food trash, chunks of styrofoam, and even a pair of crutches. Dynamic duo Marita and Bill headed up the Springfield HQ table to make sure everyone got signed in and fed. Hot dogs from Shaw’s were grilled up by Jim and Jamie on a grill provided by Jim Young of Young’s Furniture and Appliance. Grappling hooks were thrown, garbage was removed, and the river practically smiled. Dozens of volunteers turned out for this annual event, dedicating their time on a beautiful morning to helping their river regain some of its health and beauty.
Many thanks to each and every volunteer – many new friends were made, and many familiar faces were warmly welcomed. The BRAT also wishes to heartily thank everyone who sent in or dropped off a donation, including the following wonderful supporters (listed in alphabetical order): Apron Strings Cafe, Aquacheck Laboratory, Army Corps of Engineers, Ascutney Mountain Audubon Society, Beacon Pest Control of Cavendish, Black River Produce, Boy Scout Troop 216, Boy Scout Troop 252, Cavendish Elementary School, Citizens Bank, CleanWaterFuture.org, Clear Away Rubbish Removal, CT River Savings Bank, CT River Watershed Council, Cub Scout Pack 258, Divergent Technology, Deep River Snacks, Depot St Gallery (home of The Silver Spoon), Dr. Chris Fauver (DDS), Fletcher Farm Foundation, Fletcher Memorial Library of Ludlow, Funding Factory, Garden Club of Springfield, Girl Scout Troop 30822, Hubbard Brook Research Foundation, Ink Factory Clothing Co., Lake Rescue Association, Lone Leaf Graphic Design, Lucas Industries, Ludlow Shopping Plaza, Ludlow Transfer Station, Ludlow Village Pizza, Luzenac America, Okemo Mountain Resort, One Credit Union, Ottauquechee Natural Resources Conservation District, Precision Valley Communications of VT LLC, Riverside Veterinarian Care of Rutland, Shaw’s of Ludlow and of Springfield, Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission, Spring River Enterprises, Springfield Animal Hospital, Springfield Moose Lodge #679, Springfield Town Library, Springfield Recycle Center, Springfield Rotary Club, Springfield Shopping Plaza, Trout Unlimited, Union St School, VT Agency of Natural Resources, VTel, Young’s Furniture and Appliance.
The Black River Action Team can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.