Can you spare three hours to improve the health of local rivers and streams? This spring, join in one of central New Jersey’s largest one-day volunteer efforts and make your community cleaner and healthier.
On Saturday, April 13, from 9 a.m. to noon, watershed watchdog Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA) will hold its 29th annual Stream Cleanup event at dozens of sites in Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris counties. Volunteers of all ages are needed, and the cleanup will be held rain or shine.
“Our annual cleanup is making a huge difference!” said Cindy Ehrenclou, executive director of the Bedminster-based nonprofit. “Not only does it beautify our streams, but it prevents litter from washing into the river and becoming a hazard to wildlife and human health.”
At last year’s cleanup, 1,660 volunteers picked up 13.5 tons of trash from stream banks within the watershed, including 7,643 plastic bottles and 2,688 plastic bags.
“In just 3 hours our volunteers prevented tons of plastic pollution from entering our streams and rivers,” said Dr. Kristi MacDonald, science director for RHA. “Removing plastic bottles, bags, straws and other plastic litter prevents them from breaking down into smaller fragments called “microplastics, a pollutant that affects the whole food chain.”
Raritan Headwaters just completed a pilot study documenting the presence of microplastics in the South Branch of the Raritan, especially downstream from wastewater treatment plants. If time allows at the Stream Cleanup, volunteers may be asked to fill out data sheets logging the brand names found on plastic bottles, bags and food wrappers. These data sheets help RHA track trends over time.
Raritan Headwaters’ 470-square-mile region includes the North and South Branches of the Raritan River and their many tributaries. The Stream Cleanup helps not only communities within the watershed, but also downstream communities.
Online registration is now open. To sign up, go to www.raritanheadwaters.org/streamcleanup to view an interactive map of the 50 designated sites for this year’s cleanup, then click the registration link to reserve a place at your preferred site.
Individuals and groups who register by March 1 will be guaranteed a free T-shirt. Those who register by March 26 will receive work gloves and trash and recycling bags. Individuals and groups can still register after March 26, but they may have to provide their own gloves.
Groups of more than 15 people should contact Stream Cleanup Coordinator Jeff Geist at firstname.lastname@example.org or 908-234-1852 ext. 317 to make arrangements.
About Raritan Headwaters
Raritan Headwaters has been working since 1959 to protect, preserve and improve water quality and other natural resources of the Raritan River headwaters region through efforts in science, education, advocacy, land preservation and stewardship. RHA’s 470-square-mile region provides clean drinking water to 300,000 residents of 38 municipalities in Somerset, Hunterdon and Morris counties and beyond to some 1.5 million homes and businesses in New Jersey’s densely populated urban areas.
Raritan Headwaters recently was accredited by the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission, meaning it has been recognized as a strong and effective organization committed to professional excellence and maintaining the public’s trust.
To learn more about Raritan Headwaters and its programs, please visit www.raritanheadwaters.org or call 908-234-1852.