Volunteers Needed for Susquehanna River Cleanup

(COOPERSTOWN)–Volunteers are needed for the sixth annual Susquehanna River cleanup in Cooperstown on July 29, 2023. The event will take place from 7am to 1pm. The cleanup is organized by the Cooperstown Lions Club in partnership with Cooperstown Rotary, Rotary E-Club of Global Trekkers, the SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station Dive Team and Otsego County Conservation Association. 

Volunteers are needed on—and in—the river, as well as onshore. Tasks include working with the dive team to pull trash out of the river and load it onto rafts and canoes or kayaks; transferring recovered material from rafts and canoes onto trailers; transporting material to the transfer station; procuring and providing refreshments; and documenting the event. Approximately 50 volunteers are needed in all. 

“It’s a strenuous but ultimately rewarding day,” said John Rowley of Cooperstown, who has been organizing the event. “It’s a tremendous feeling at the end of the day to look at the trailer and know you’ve made a difference.” 

The river cleanup began in 2018. “My wife and I would walk along the river and we were dismayed by how much garbage was in the river,” Rowley said. “We got tired of it and decided to do something about it.” 

Rowley got the backing of the Lions Club and began reaching out to other organizations in the area for help. The first cleanup was on August 8, 2018. Since then, volunteers have removed approximately one hundred tires, 30 50-gallon drums, a trailer frame, a feed trough, and countless bottles, cans, and other objects from the river.  

In-river volunteers will include float teams and kayak/canoe teams. The float teams will work with the BFS Dive Team to pull items out of the river and load them onto rafts, and will guide the rafts through the river to exit points for unloading. Members of the float teams will be provided with gloves and can borrow a personal flotation device if they don’t have their own. Kayak/Canoe teams will help collect and transport smaller debris, and will support float and dive team members. Volunteers are also needed on land at exit points to help load debris from rafts and watercraft onto trailers for transportation to the transfer station. There will be an orientation session for volunteers several weeks before the event, Rowley said. “We want to make sure people are properly prepared with how to dress and what to bring.” 

Interested people can sign up online at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pLjw3-kFUk2QeXqZBp6gQi_QaA2uOGmeBshBMFwjwJU/edit?usp=sharing. Prospective volunteers should include their email, and a phone number where they can be contacted. They can also contact Marcie Foster via email at fostermarcie@hotmail.com.  

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