Get out your galoshes and gloves, because it’s time to get down and dirty in our WNY waterways with the RiverKeeper Spring Shoreline Sweep 2015!
If you’ve been looking for an easy and fun volunteer opportunity for your friends, workplace, or family, I highly recommend the Buffalo Niagara RiverKeeper Shoreline Sweep.
I personally have participated in two of these Shoreline Sweeps in the past, and each time has been an adventure. At heart, I’m still that Ozarkian tom-boy who loves jumping into streams, catching crawdads, and all around getting dirty. Now instead of catching crawdads, I catch trash. I feel much better about it!
A little bit about RiverKeeper Spring Shoreline Sweep from the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper website:
Riverkeeper organizes the largest Shoreline Cleanups in Buffalo Niagara with over 1,500 volunteers at 40 waterfront sites throughout Western New York. This direct form of citizen action re-connects the public with our local water and makes our community a better place. Thank you for joining the effort to protect and revitalize our waterways by cleaning up trash that is harmful for fish and wildlife!
You can register for one of these 40 sites at this Volunteer Registration page. The site locations are available in a dropdown list on that link. Once a site has the max amount of people, that location will be removed from the list.
I mentioned that families could do it. While some people are hesitant to let children go around touching trash, I’ve come across several families or scout troops that put on gloves and let the kids go crazy. The parents or troop leaders have the good sense to tell the kids “stay in your groups” “leave glass and other sharp objects alone”, other good safety advice, and send an adult with the younger groups and allow the older kids to take this time to be responsible for their own safety. It worked out really well in both occasions; at the end, the kids really enjoyed getting messy, and love to talk about what kind of trash their group pulled out of the creek, or bragged when they found an abandoned toilet or car tires.
Bigger objects will typically be tackled by someone at a site who brought a pick-up truck, and that’s not always the site leader. Said truck owner will usually get caught up in the excitement of the philanthropy and carefully take their trucks to pull out these mud-sunken objects with ropes or chains. True story: one truck came back to the base site with a refrigerator and an oven pulled from Ellicott Creek. So if you’re a metal scrapper, these events could yield productive volunteer opportunities! But at the end of the day, it’s all about bragging rights.
Be certain to dress according to the weather as these Shoreline sweeps can literally be freezing. Waterproof boots or near expired old shoes are ideal. Very few people come out of this affair without some kind of slip into the water or brush against a mud bank, so don’t wear anything nice. Ladies: I recommend either waterproof make up or none at all, and everyone, be certain to have your hair tied back or secured under a hat, because by the end of the day, someone is going to crawl guerrilla-style under a bramble bush to get that really obvious Reese’s Peanut Butter wrapper stuck under there, and you won’t know who until that moment comes. Again, it’s bragging rights.
So get outside, do some good, and have a fun time doing it! It’s always a blast and it’s for a good cause: no figurative downside! On the literal downside, be wary of the creek or stream banks; they can be muddy and steep. Have fun! I know I will!