To the editor: This past Saturday, I joined a group of determined local folks to remove trash from the west branch of the Housatonic River in Pittsfield.
This well-organized effort was spearheaded by two leaders: Jane Winn of the Berkshire Environmental Action Team and Alison Dixon of the Housatonic Valley Association. There were enough of us volunteers joining BEAT and HVA staff to spread out and collect garbage from four different parts, including at the boat put-in behind Wahconah Park, and the area surrounding the brand-new Westside Riverway Park, off Dewey Avenue. The debris we hauled out ranged from punctured full-sized plastic swimming pools (plural), to rusty bed springs, a tent with all its poles, sharp needles, bottles and cans, and cigarette butts. So many cigarette butts.
I can recommend the cleanup experience to anyone looking to meet others while working on community improvement and scoring some yummy snacks and drinks as a reward. But the question remains: Why is there so much garbage in the river? Do local citizens think that any butt or chip bag they toss toward a storm drain will somehow get whisked away and dissolve? They won’t. Or that it’s already polluted, so a little more trash won’t matter? It matters. Or it’s too difficult, or too costly, to figure out what to do with the inflatable pool once it’s lost its air or water? Maybe the folks who shared in the pool while it was working can help you resolve that puzzle so that it doesn’t block up our little waterway. A family with two very young children came to the stream bank to see what was happening in their backyard, as we were cleaning that section of river. The parents greeted us, and thanked us for our work. They held their kids close. I couldn’t help thinking, how nice it would be if they could let go a little to let the kids explore a clean riverbank free of broken glass and rusty metal. But we are not there yet.
Michele Lydon, Pittsfield