What 200 People Fished Out Of The Saw Mill River On Earth Day

From the Mississippi to the Hudson River, rivers have shaped the United States’ landscape, biodiversity, history, and culture. Rivers and streams are an important water source and support aquatic life such as fish and eels, and serve as a habitat for birds and other wildlife. They are a recreational and social resource and have a vivid history in the varied communities that surround them.

However, over decades, our rivers have become more polluted and contaminated due to rapid population growth, a growing industry sector, and improper disposal of waste. According to the most recent surveys on national water quality from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nearly half of our rivers and streams and more than one-third of our lakes are polluted and unfit for swimming, fishing, and drinking.

The Yonkers-based environmental non-profit, Groundwork Hudson Valley and the community-led Saw Mill River Coalition mobilized 200 volunteers and compiled nearly 230 garbage bags of trash from the Saw Mill River, as part of the annual Great Saw Mill River Clean-up to celebrate Earth Day.

Volunteers were spread across six sites in four town in Westchester County, helping remove plastics, invasive vines, construction materials, and debris from the waterway in efforts to clean the area, restore the river, and improve the environmental health of the communities around it.

At Walsh Road in Downtown Yonkers, volunteers removed abandoned bicycles, road signs, a wooden palette, clothing, and plastic bottles and bags among other items from the river. Other notable trash collected from the sites included tires, scooters, car parts, and construction materials such as pipes, bars, and concrete slabs.

A clean-up volunteer and scholar from the Yonkers Partners in Education organization named Angela said, “We live in this world and we should take care of it just as we do with our families and ourselves. The world is our home even if it is not in a building, so we should take care of it and take it seriously.

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano joined Groundwork Hudson Valley and volunteers. He was on hand to see how removing trash and invasive species from the river benefits the community’s overall environment.

We live in this world and we should take care of it just as we do with our families and ourselves. The world is our home even if it is not in a building, so we should take care of it and take it seriously.” — Angela, clean-up volunteer and scholar from the Yonkers Partners in Education.

At the end of the day, the trash and debris removed are concrete actions and efforts to allow plants and trees to thrive, restoring the health of the river, and creating, clean, safe outdoor spaces to be used by local residents for socializing, exercise, and recreation.

The Great Saw Mill River Clean-up may officially be over, but at Groundwork Hudson Valley, ensuring a healthy, thriving environment for the communities and residents they serve is an everyday practice.

Groundwork Hudson Valley is an environmental justice non-profit that works with communities to improve climate resilience and adaptation, promotes sustainability education, and nurtures the next generation of environmental leaders. Visit us at groundworkhv.org for more information.

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