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Pynchon Point parking lot near the South End bridge
Volunteers along the Westfield River and its streams will join cleanup crews across four states according to Mark Damon, president of the Westfield River Watershed Association (WRWA) and coordinator of the cleanup. “Our volunteers, like other Source to Sea groups, take a Saturday morning and use it to make a significant difference in our watershed.”
In its nearly 70 years, the Watershed Association, has worked to make the once-polluted Westfield River clean enough for swimming. “Over the years, we have hauled hundreds of TONS of trash and debris from our river,” continues Damon. “It’s all thanks to our community volunteers of all ages. Our river is an amazing resource that is accessible to thousands of folks in the area for fishing, picnicking, walking, paddling and even swimming. We’re glad to carry on the tradition of keeping it clean and inviting.” Damon, who teaches at Westfield State University and Holyoke Community College, invites his students to join in. “The kids from the high schools and colleges are especially helpful in providing the muscle that we need to move some of the bigger items we find.”
According to Sheryl Becker, the other WRWA clean-up coordinator. “We have small groups working at different sites along the river.” She also notes, “Due to the traffic from Big E, the Agawam clean-up at Pynchon Point is scheduled for Saturday.
The WRWA is part of the Connecticut River Conservancy which sponsors the annual Source to Sea Cleanup, a volunteer network taking care of the Connecticut River and its tributaries. Damon sports a bright blue tee shirt with the CRC logo which proudly proclaims: Hard Work. Real Fun. True Impact. “It’s a great cause—keeping our environment clean—and everyone is welcome,” adds Damon. “Mostly we just clean up along the banks of our rivers and streams. We find all kinds of garbage from old tires to plastic bottles and snack wrappers. The Westfield River always looks so good when we are done.”
Becker is passionate about river cleanup work. “Our watersheds are critical resources that must be protected and preserved, so we give certain areas along the banks a good cleaning 2-3 times a year. A clean river is critical to biodiversity and clean water. If we don't keep it clean no one else will! So please join us and unite with fellow river-lovers...it's both fun and rewarding.”
Ann Barone, the WRWA second vice-president, offers her thanks for the groups that participate. “Besides individuals, we get groups from businesses and organizations, and students from the local schools and colleges, and even the Mayor’s Office.