On Saturday, approximately 4,000 volunteers and community leaders joined forces to clean the banks of the 80-mile Charles River at the 13th Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup.
In a collaboration led by Charles River Watershed Association, volunteers from the Charles River watershed and beyond worked together to remove litter and beautify the Charles River and its surrounding parklands in one of the nation’s largest one-day river cleanup events. Volunteers removed an estimated 15-20 tons of trash from sites throughout the watershed from Milford to Boston, including through Medfield.
In addition to acknowledging and celebrating Earth Day, this year’s event was a celebration of the Charles River being awarded the Thiess International Riverprize. This award, the largest environmental award in the world, is given for visionary and sustainable excellence in river management. The award recognizes and honors 46 years of cleaning up the Charles, which is now heralded as the cleanest urban river in America.
“For 13 years we have been celebrating Earth Day by organizing one of the largest river clean-ups in the nation – a day devoted to helping the river with lots of friends. This year, we are also celebrating the 42nd Earth Day, the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, and the Charles receiving the International RiverFoundation’s International Riverprize. It’s a good day all around,” said Bob Zimmerman, CRWA’s Executive Director.
Saturday's event, like the larger scale cleanup of the Charles River, is a collaborative effort. CRWA is assisted by a team of diverse local organizations, including: Charles River Conservancy, The Esplanade Association, Senator Will Brownsberger’s office, the City of Newton, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
At the lunchtime Hatch Shell event following the Cleanup activities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Bill Walsh-Rogalski announced the agency’s 2011 report card score of B for the Charles River. DCR Commissioner Edward A. Lambert was also on hand to thank volunteers for their efforts in cleaning up state park lands.
State Senator William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) said, “I, along with my family and staff, was thrilled to participate and organize volunteers for this year's Charles River Cleanup in Brighton and Watertown. Volunteers from many surrounding communities came out to clean the Charles River and surrounding open spaces, and I want to thank everyone for working so hard to enhance the river for all of us to enjoy.”
Silvia Salas, the Executive Director of The Esplanade Association said, “The Charles River Cleanup is a fabulous way for community members to show that they care about our green spaces. We are very appreciative of the exemplary collaboration between CRWA and participating park friends groups and of the many volunteers who pitched in today.”
This year’s Cleanup was part of National Volunteer Week, which runs from April 15-21 and celebrates community involvement and volunteerism across the nation.
The 13th Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup encompasses just one day, but maintaining a clean and health Charles River is an ongoing task.
"Earth Day is a great beginning to clearing the banks of the Charles after winter. The Charles River Conservancy works with some 2,000 people all through the year to keep the urban parklands beautiful and safe. Individual and corporations are welcome to participate in any season" said Renata von Tscharner, founder and president of the Charles River Conservancy.
After the Cleanup, volunteers gathered to celebrate, share refreshments, and enjoy entertainment at picnics across the watershed, including the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade in Boston, the Blue Herron Trail Way in Waltham, and Whole Foods in Bellingham. The picnics finished off a productive and rewarding day of community service beautifying one of Boston’s and Eastern Massachusetts’ premier attractions. All volunteers received a T-shirt designed by Massachusetts College of Art student Nathan Olson.
This event was sponsored in part by Massachusetts Service Alliance, New Balance Foundation, Hyatt Regency Cambridge, Mix 104.1, L.L. Bean and Odwalla. Material and financial contributions for the Charles River Cleanup were also provided by Amgen, Boston University, NStar, CDMSmith, Whole Foods Market, Woodard & Curran, Cadmus Group, Inc., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chestnut Hill Realty, Knucklebones, Coca Cola, Boston Marriott Newton, Charles River Bank, Patagonia Boston, Cambridge Biomedical, Inc., Boston Sand and Gravel, A. Russo and Sons, White Corporation, Charles Gate Yacht Club, Inc., Garbo Grabber, Swartz True Value, Shaws, Trader Joes, and Stop & Shop.
About the Charles River Watershed Association
Charles River Watershed Association’s mission is to use science, advocacy and the law to protect, preserve and enhance the Charles River and its watershed. One of our country’s first watershed organizations, CRWA formed in 1965 in response to public concern about the declining condition of the Charles River. Since its earliest days of advocacy, CRWA has figured prominently in major clean-up and watershed protection efforts that have dramatically improved the health of the Charles.