By Kristen Mercure
Have you ever thought about just how vast an area the waterways of the United States reach? The United States has more than 250,000 rivers that stretch, meander, surge, and flow over 3.5 million miles! That puts almost every American within 1 mile of a river or stream. With local waterways just a short walk away from most people’s front door it’s no surprise that over 100,000 people volunteered with National River Cleanup® last year to clean up their local river or stream.
As you’ve seen on the blog before, American Rivers has been holding cleanups with Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. (Keurig) employees for years. This summer National River Cleanup packed their bags and went out across the country from the Northeast the Pacific Northwest to attend cleanups with Keurig employees and community members.
Each river cleanup has its own story and its own beginning. Its volunteers are working to protect their river from a wide range of threats. Having the chance to paddle the waters, tromp through the muddy shores, and listen to the organizers and volunteers of cleanups in different regions gives National River Cleanup valuable insight into how we can all work together to protect, preserve, and cleanup our rivers!
On September 13th and 20th National River Cleanup attended cleanups in New York City, Miami, and Los Angeles. Cleanups near the coast provide an important reminder that our trash flows downstream and that what happens to our rivers can impact our bays, our deltas, and ultimately our oceans. Let’s take a look at the cleanups and the incredible organizations we partnered with for these events:
New York City
The Bronx River Alliance has been a friend of American Rivers for years having worked together on the Bronx River Blueway GeoStory. National River Cleanup and Keurig were proud to partner with them on a cleanup of the Bronx River on September 13th where volunteers braved the cool and rainy weather to cleanup Concrete Plant Park. American Rivers’ staff member Courtney Barefoot attended the cleanup and said, “What I loved most about this cleanup on the Bronx River was that every volunteer there was a community member. The volunteers’ enthusiasm for their community was infectious, and their devotion to bettering it was evident as they worked in the cold, rainy conditions.”
National River Cleanup and Keurig got to engage another partner of American Rivers by supporting the Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s Coastal Cleanup on September 20th at Dockweiler State Beach. This cleanup engaged 350 volunteers, including a team of volunteer scuba divers from the Kelp Restoration Project, who cleaned up and sorted 200lbs of trash for plastic pellets! The volunteers were entertained by a solar powered DJ during the cleanup!
National River Cleanup and American Rivers ventured to Miami for the first time to work with the Environmental Coalition of Miami and the Beaches (ECOMB) and Keurig on a cleanup of Teachers Island, Flagler Monument Island, and two of Morningside Park Picnic Islands. Nearly 200 volunteers boarded boats donated by other concerned citizens and a local paddleboard tour company to shuttle volunteers to islands for a morning of cleaning up their waterways. The volunteers cleaned up hundreds of pounds of trash and debris and sorted plastics to donate to Method, a project that turns trash from waterways back into useful materials.
We’re often concerned with cleaning up our hometown river or stream to help our local environment and community. But it’s important to remember that water keeps on flowing and it will carry trash and waste on to our neighbors and beyond. There’s still time to organize or volunteer for a cleanup with National River Cleanup this year!