Hundreds of volunteers Saturday participated in the 12th annual Stream Cleanups organized by the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association at various Mercer County locations.
A record number of 800 volunteers removed about 10,000 pounds of trash from throughout the region. They disposed of unusual items including a propane tank, luggage, shoes, Christmas tree ornaments, a political campaign sign, foam pads, tires and even a valid driver’s license.
“What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by removing debris and helping keep our waterways clean, safe and healthy,” said Jim Waltman, executive director of the Watershed.
In Cranbury, about 75 volunteers gathered 1,101 pounds of trash and recyclables including tires, metal and wood. Boy Scout Troop 52 and the Women’s Club of Cranbury were enthusiastic participants at the event.
At the Watershed’s Wargo Pond in Hopewell Township, about 60 volunteers collected 355 pounds of trash including chicken wire, soccer cleats, plastic coolers, metal and bottles. One boy Zach Wolff, 6, removed 65 pounds by himself including a cinder block, cans and a metal grate. About a dozen kids from Girl Scout Troops 70131 and 70063 as well as Cub Scout Pack 850 participated.
“We also had many summer campers from old to young join us,” said Tammy Love, director of the Watershed Nature Camp. “They brought me bones and turtle shells. This was the first ever clean up at Wargo Pond and it attracted many local residents and longtime Watershed supporters.”
Cleanups were held in 12 locations in Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset counties on April 14 and 21, helping to improve the scenic beauty of the region as well as improve wildlife habitat. Volunteers received a Watershed Stream Cleanup t-shirt as a memento of the community-wide effort.
Over the past decade, about 4,600 volunteers have removed more than 93,000 pounds of garbage during these stream cleanups.