The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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May 10, 2014

Stop this rubbish

"Some of (the litter in the river) is just irresponsible"

SUNBURY — One disintegrating refrigerator, one television, two truck batteries, a couple of lawn chairs, about a dozen tires, too many plastic bottles to count and much assorted junk later, the Susquehanna is a much cleaner river today.

Thousands of pounds of debris and garbage were removed from its banks during the second annual Susquehanna River Cleanup Project held Saturday, and event organizers Zach Stotter and Emily Robinson are sure the 2014 effort beat last year’s more than 6,000-pound collection.

The 2013 collection included a refrigerator, as well as a row of bowling alley seats.

It’s a love of the river that motivated Stotter to found the Susquehanna River Cleanup Project. The refuse retrieval idea came from his time with AmeriCorps, the national and community service group, and a similar event done for the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh.

This year’s volunteer surge to clean the river banks was delayed a week by a potential minor flood. Still, 85 volunteers came out Saturday to scour nine miles of the Susquehanna, from the Chillisquaque Access Area and Boat Ramp to the north and the Sunbury Boat Launch to the south.

This year, both sides of the river got some help as Ed Hovenstine, Shamokin Dam borough manager, organized a small crew to tackle a quarter-mile stretch on the Snyder County side between the Northumberland Boat Club building and river access near the Adam T. Bower Memorial Dam.

Among the finds: the usual tires and bottles, but also a discarded tent, a pair of size-11 work boots, pallets and a bag of something ... possibly “organic.”

Hovenstine thought it was fish guts.

“Some of this stuff, you know, ends up in the river accidentally,” he said.

Fast-rising waters don’t always give people enough time to secure things.

“A lot of it is unintentional (dumping) but some of it is just irresponsible,” Hovenstine said.

Kind of hard to see a refrigerator or TV accidentally ending up in the Susquehanna.

Bryce Bucher and Hannah Gale, of Sunbury, were surprised by the submerged television set.

“Disgusting,” Bryce said of that plus the bottles, tires and lawn chairs they picked up.

The Fesslers, of Sunbury, made a family affair of the cleanup, with brave father Doug venturing under a pier to get plastic bottles stubbornly stuck among the rocks. Mother Brandy and son Trent were proud but weren’t going under there with him. Together, they collected about three bags of trash.

In three hours, volunteers had filled two truckloads of stuff. Two pontoon boats served as “garbage barges” for the day, bringing south what was found up river. That pile included a large piece of aluminum roof, a large section of plastic pipe, coolers, still more tires and plastic bottles.

Volunteers were treated to pizza donated by Papa John’s and a concert from 2 to 6 p.m., moved to the Sunbury Ice Rink because of a forecasted thunderstorm. Performers included Karen Nogle & Mark Tomeo, Earl Pickens, and Shady Lane Station with Ravi Evans.

The project, which debuted last year, won the 2013 Swank Outstanding Conservation Organization of The Year award through the Northumberland County Conservation District.

 

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