Organizers of the Allegheny River Cleanup are encouraging residents to get grubby and pitch in during the fourth Allegheny River Clean-up from Saturday, Sept. 15 to Saturday, Sept. 22.
For the past three years the clean-up has covered about 31 miles of the Allegheny River, and this year co-organizer John Beard said it will expand from Tidioute into West Hickory to cover nearly 38 miles.
A small group will cover the new area and next year will be part of the regular clean-up, he said.
"We are excited to be able to say that we are cleaning the whole section of the Allegheny River in Warren County," cleanup committee member Paul Mead said.
At the center of the clean-up are the volunteers. Last year, 350 people "braved sun, wind, rain, slime and grime and a lot heavy lifting to pull everything from washing machines to old mattresses to pop cans from the Allegheny and its tributaries," Beard said.
And there is no shortage of trash to pull from the river. Volunteers pulled out 6,000 pounds of metal from the river in 2009; 8,000 pounds in 2010; and 12,000 pounds in 2011. That doesn't even count the other amount of trash and tires pulled from the waterway.
Beard said each year he thought the previous haul couldn't be topped, only to be proven wrong each time.
"I quit guessing," he said.
Volunteers will work on different sections of the river each day during the clean-up. The Allegheny River Tire Pile at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Market Street will once again display tires pulled from the river.
Scrap metal donations, including appliances, will be accepted at the Tire Pile location. Electronics or tires should not be dropped off. A drug take-back station manned by the City of Warren Police Department and the Youngsville Borough Police Department will also be at the same location on Saturday, Sept. 22.
For the past three years the clean-up has been recognized as one of the top 10 river cleanups in the world by Project Aware and the International Coastal Cleanup, according to Beard. In April, the event earned a Pennsylvania Wilds Conservation Stewardship Award.
"This is high praise for a grassroots effort that started in a canoe livery with some friends talking about making a difference," he said. "Let's keep it going!"
The weeklong event will end with the "River Riot Party" on Saturday evening at the Buckaloons Campground that will feature live music, food, refreshments, free camping and the fourth annual Most Treasured awards.
The Allegheny River Clean-up started in 2009 after three friends from the worlds of banking, small business and public lands management joined forces, Beard said. As a National Wild and Scenic River and a star attraction in the Pennsylvania Wilds, was considered a healthy river but storms and illegal dumping, much of it years old, had left unsightly and unsafe junk in parts of the river. Nate Welker, U.S. Forest Service biologist, Piper VanOrd, owner of Allegheny Outfitters, and Beard, Northwest Savings Bank, wanted to make sure the Allegheny River remained an incredible ecological, recreational and economic asset that flows through the county.
The Allegheny River Cleanup schedule:
Saturday, Sept. 15: Brokenstraw Creek 8 a.m. and Conewango Creek cleanup 8 a.m.
Monday, Sept. 17: Indian Waters to Tidioute 9 a.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 18: Buckaloons to Indian Waters 9 a.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 19: Tidioute to West Hickory 10 a.m.
Friday, Sept. 21: Kinzua Dam to Betts Park 9 a.m.
Saturday Sept 22: Betts Park to Buckaloons 8 a.m.; Recycling Day at Market Street and Pennsylvania Ave. 8 a.m.; River Riot (awards party) 6 p.m.