6th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep is May 6:

Thousands to clean up Hudson & NYC shorelines

Photo: Gail Porter

From Brooklyn to the Adirondack Mountains, local groups will conduct 100+ shoreline cleanups and planting projects in a SINGLE DAY.

Ossining, N.Y. – A one-day event stretching from Brooklyn to the Adirondacks will bring out more than 100 teams of volunteers – about 2,200 people in all – to clean up and restore the Hudson Valley and New York City shorelines on Saturday, May 6.

The event, the 6th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep, has grown every year since 2012 and has cleared a grand total of 164 tons of trash from the shorelines. (Click here to see data.) Volunteers gather debris by land or by boat. Other teams plant native grasses or care for newly planted trees. To join in, members of the public can search 105 locations and register at www.riverkeeper.org/sweep.

For the first time, Riverkeeper Sweep will extend north of Troy to the Upper Hudson and the Adirondacks, and will include the Bronx River in New York City.

During Riverkeeper Sweep 2016, 2,200 volunteers removed 48 tons of shoreline debris, including 423 tires, and planted or maintained more than 800 trees and shrubs. Data collectors at five sites documented the types of trash in detail. (Click here to see data.)

Tires, plastic bottles, plastic bags and Styrofoam are among the most pervasive items polluting the shorelines. But the annual Sweep is having a lasting effect: More people are becoming engaged to work for healthier waterways and for measures to reduce the use of plastic. And at many sites, less trash is being found along the shores.

“People want to take things into their own hands now, and they understand the importance of their own involvement,” said Sarah Womer, Riverkeeper Director of Community Engagement. “This is such a tangible way to give back, and to show something for your effort. You can really see the before and after, all along the shoreline.”

Local schools, scout troops, paddling groups, clubs and park staff organize each of the local projects in partnership with Riverkeeper. “Our volunteers and partners enable us to do the work we do for the Hudson,” said Jen Benson, Riverkeeper Education and Outreach Coordinator. “People are stepping up. The Hudson is under threat, and these are the faces of the defenders.”

A scout troop will be part of a cleanup at North Creek, a community on the Upper Hudson in Adirondack Park, where the 60th Annual Hudson River Whitewater Derby will be under way.

“Up here the river is smaller – but it’s very much our lifeblood,” said Andrea Hogan, a Sweep leader from North Creek. “We’re a tourism-dependent town. And we are keenly aware that we need to preserve what we have.”

The effort extends as far south as Red Hook, Brooklyn, where the Brooklyn Fishing Club is leading a cleanup at Valentino Park. On the Bronx River, a cleanup at Concrete Plant Park will be led by The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization that helps returning veterans readjust. “I care about the Bronx, I care about community, and this gives something to the kids,” project leader Marcos Dominguez said. “It gives you a green space to sit, relax, and get away from the craziness of life.”

Paddlers will take to canoes and kayaks at several locations, picking up trash from the Hudson and tributaries like the Wallkill River.

“I live on the Wallkill, so to me it’s about protecting our own water supplies,” said Dave Sides, who leads a group of paddlers along the Wallkill from Gardiner to New Paltz, picking up car parts, plastic bottles and other trash. “Knowing how bad it is, I would really like to see it cleaned up. I would like to feel like we can do something, and can make a difference.”

Regional and global studies are yielding alarming data about plastic pollution in our waterways. Plastic can harm marine life by attracting and releasing contaminants into the water, and by being ingested by fish. Riverkeeper is a member of the Trash Free Waters Partnership, a collaboration across public, private, & nonprofit sectors to reduce plastic & debris in all water bodies, primarily in the New York / New Jersey region.

Last year, data collectors at five Sweep sites – Flushing Bay, Hastings-on-Hudson, Cornwall, Esopus and Poughkeepsie – counted hundreds of plastic beverage bottles, caps and straws, other food wrappers (candy and chips) and plastic bags. Foam containers and cigarette butts were also counted by the hundreds.

“There’s nothing more heartbreaking than being out on the beautiful river and seeing garbage,” said Gail Porter of the kayak rental and tour company I Paddle New York in Saugerties.

“It’s like a must-do. It feels good when you’re paddling back with kayaks full of garbage and it’s clean. You just feel like you did something right that day.”

“Being a kayaker and swimmer, I treasure the Hudson River and its health, for outdoor pleasure from the Catskills to the Adirondacks,” said Sharon Allyn Witbeck, who is leading a cleanup in Schuylerville on the Upper Hudson. “As a lover of nature, I feel it’s my duty to do what I can to protect it.”

Sweep volunteers are invited to meet after their projects at any of 26 Hudson Valley and New York City breweries for a beverage on the house: Albany Pump Station (CH Evans Brewing Co.), Albany; Angry Orchard, Walden; Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn; Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, Elmsford; Crossroads Brewing Company, Athens; Defiant Brewing Co., Pearl River;  Greenpoint Beer and Ale, Brooklyn; Gun Hill Brewing Company, Bronx; The Guilded Otter, New Paltz; Hudson Valley Brewery, Beacon; Industrial Arts Brewing Company, Garnerville; Keegan Ales, Kingston, Kings County Brewers Collective, Brooklyn; Mill House Brewing Company, Poughkeepsie; Newburgh Brewing Company, Newburgh; North River Hops and Brewing, Wappingers Falls; Other Half Brewing, Brooklyn; Peekskill Brewery, Peekskill; Plan Bee Farm Brewery, Poughkeepsie; P&G Restaurant, New Paltz; SingleCut Beersmiths, Astoria, Queens;

Suarez Family Brewery, Hudson; Transmitter Brewing, Long Island City; Two-Way Brewing, Beacon; Yard Owl Craft Brewery, New Paltz; Yonkers Brewing Company, Yonkers.

Sponsors of the event are: JSA Financial, Ironshore, Adams Fairacre Farms, The Angry Orchard, Avangrid Foundation, EILEEN FISHER,  MEC, Orvis and The Patricia Nelson and Charles Matkowski Charitable Fund.

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Riverkeeper is a member-supported watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and its tributaries and protecting the drinking water supply of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents.  For more than 50 years, Riverkeeper has helped to establish globally recognized standards for waterway and watershed protection and serves as the model for the growing Waterkeeper movement that includes more than 300 Keeper programs around the globe. Visit us at riverkeeper.org.