Allegheny Reservoir cleanup effort seeking volunteers

Image submitted to Times Observer Image of the territory covered when volunteers take part in the 15th Annual Allegheny Reservoir Cleanup.

There’s an old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The meaning is not literal but, typically, a commentary on how there is no judging for taste — what one person may think is worthless may be cherished by another.

So, if you’ve been longing for a discarded tire, a message in a bottle or any item that someone considered no longer useful, there’s an upcoming opportunity to go on a treasure hunt and spruce up the local area all in one day.

The 15th Annual Allegheny Reservoir Cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, May 11 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will kick off from Onoville Marina, 704 W. Perimeter Road, Steamburg, N.Y.

Online registration for volunteers who want to help with the cleanup is open at alleghenyrivercleanup.com or via email at info@alleghenyrivercleanup.com. Pre-registration is encouraged. The deadline to register is Friday, April 27.

Nathan Welker, fisheries biologist with the U.S. Forest Service, told representatives of various organizations and agencies who met on Tuesday that he would like to see new volunteers get involved in the event. “This event has been going on for 15 years,” Welker said. “It would be great to get some new blood involved.”

The groups are looking for about 100 volunteers to meet in the morning on May 11. Boats will then transport teams of “treasure hunters” to various points along the shoreline of the reservoir. As trash is gathered the boats will come back to load up the haul. Some volunteers also drive to some locations to clean up, according to Welker.

The early years of the event focused on the Pennsylvania portion of the reservoir. The territory covered now includes New York. “In 14 years of the cleanup we’ve had 1,042 volunteers get involved,” Welker said. “That’s why if you drive around the Pa. portion it looks beautiful.”

The goal of the annual event is to make the day fun and educational, according to Welker. The long-term goal is to get the entire reservoir cleaned up and then perform maintenance.

In the 14 years of reservoir cleanups more than 1,000 volunteers have spent approximately 8,700 hours collecting 299 cubic yards of trash, not including tires and recyclables, according to Welker.

Approximately 15,000 tires have been removed from the reservoir. A majority of them were part of a dump that was discovered, Welker said.

Organizers of the event will hold a pre-cleanup on Friday, May 3 in the area of Peters Creek. The pre-event gives organizers a chance to see what areas need to be focused on. “That’s when we find the big things,” Welker said. Last year that big thing was a giant tire from a loader.

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