On Saturday, April 30, over 300 people volunteered in Watertown as part of the 17th Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup. In a collaboration led by Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA), over 3,000 volunteers from 133 groups throughout the watershed worked together to remove litter and debris as well as eradicate invasive species in an effort to beautify the Charles River and surrounding parklands, the CRWA announced.
For 17 years the Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup has provided thousands of volunteers an opportunity to serve as parkland stewards at sites throughout the Charles River watershed including in Watertown. Through their service, volunteers deepen their connection to the Charles River while increasing their commitment to protect it. On Saturday, participants joined thousands of volunteers across Massachusetts who came together for Park Serve Day MassParks’ annual statewide day of volunteer service.
In Watertown, volunteers removed plastic bottles, disposable coffee cups, plastic bags and other litter. People appreciated the camaraderie at the event. “Everyone riding their bikes or jogging by said ‘thank you.’ It felt like a real community event,” said Sister Larissa Graham who participated at the Esplanade with congregations from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Following the Cleanup, volunteers attended a picnic at DCR’s Hatch Memorial Shell to celebrate a productive morning of community service. Speakers included Robert Zimmerman, Executive Director of Charles River Watershed Association, Scott Brinch Boston Regional Director of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and State Senator William Brownsberger. Participants received an Official Cleanup T-shirt designed by Massachusetts College of Art and Design student Julia Dudley-Kramer.
A team of diverse local organizations assisted CRWA including the Charles River Conservancy, the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, Emerald Necklace Conservancy, The Esplanade Association, Senator Will Brownsberger’s Office and the Waltham Land Trust. Joining a movement across the country, the Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup is a part of American Rivers’ National River Cleanup, which to date, has removed over 25 million pounds of trash from America’s waterways.
“With the help of volunteers and river advocates like those who worked so hard at this event, we are getting closer to a healthy Charles River,” said Robert Zimmerman, Executive Director of Charles River Watershed Association. A remaining sources of pollution to the Charles River is stormwater runoff which contributes to the overgrowth of invasive weeds and toxic cyanobacteria in the river. Many of Charles River Watershed Association’s programs focus on the reduction of stormwater pollution.
Formed in 1965, CRWA uses science, advocacy, the law and the help of volunteers to protect and restore the Charles River and its watershed. CRWA uses its science-based understanding of the watershed to define effective, long-term solutions to the river’s problems, and to promote cutting-edge, sustainable water management practices. As a result of CRWA’s efforts over the last 50 years, the Charles River, once one of the most degraded rivers on the East Coast, is now considered the cleanest urban river in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Sponsors of the Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup include Cleanup Advocates Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Pfizer and Whole Foods Market. Cleanup Supporters include American Rivers, Amgen, Boston University, Boston Water and Sewer Commission, the Cadmus Group, CDM Smith, Charles River Canoe & Kayak, Chestnut Hill Realty, Eversource, JetBlue, Keurig Green Mountain, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Star Market and Woodard & Curran. Cleanup Friends include Auburndale Builders, Boston Marriott Newton Hotel, Coupons.com, Fresh City & Souper Salad, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Newton Yacht Club, Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, Target, Triumvirate Environmental, Watertown Community Foundation, Wegmans and White Corporation.
For more information about the Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup, please visit www.charlesriver.org/cleanup