River cleanup enlists new and familiar faces

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Members of the Warren County Jail work crew (clockwise from top) Dakota Morse, Josh Neall, and Zachary Muczynski, carefully pile another load of garbage on a loaded dumpster at the end of day two of the 11th annual Allegheny River Clean-up.

More than 70 people signed in to work on the Allegheny River on Monday — the second day of the 11th annual Allegheny River Cleanup.

They were shuttled from Wildwood to Buckaloons to begin their trips.

Paddlers, mostly working in pairs, gathered enough garbage in five hours to overfill a roll-off dumpster.

There were many familiar faces among the 70 on the river.

Some are so familiar, organizers become concerned when they don’t see certain names among the sign-ups.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Timm Peterson (left) and Jory Peterson paddle into the drop-off site at Wildwood after a day of cleaning up the Allegheny River.

Steve Bastow has joined every year. It’s important to him. “I spend a lot of time on it fishing and kayaking,” Bastow said. “It’s nice to come out and get out the heavy stuff.”

When his name wasn’t on the list with three weeks left before the event, organizers were worried that they had lost a dedicated worker, or worse, something had happened to him.

There was a simple answer.

“I put in for my vacation for it,” he said.

Before he could go to the clean-up website and sign up, “I had to make sure it was approved,” he said.

It’s good for the event to have experienced volunteers and new blood.

That was the case with two representatives of the Kinzua Fish and Wildlife Association.

Pauline Bauer and Allison Emer were on opposite ends of the experience spectrum — Bauer has participated in each of the 11 years and this was Emer’s first.

“It’s fun,” Bauer said. “It’s a day of canoeing without paying for it. You get to clean up the environment.”

“So much fun,” Emer said.

They could have had a good start on outfitting an apartment with all the electronics they found — a dorm refrigerator, a radio, a coffee maker, and a television.

Nate Weaver was the new guy in the canoe with five-time veteran John Able, a member of the Conewango Creek Watershed Association.

Their canoe was piled high, but not riding low. Their high-volume find was some low-density styrofoam — “maybe part of a floating dock,” Able said. “One large tire, a lot of bottles — various alcoholic beverages.”

“It was a beautiful day to be out on the river,” Weaver said. “I didn’t know what to expect. There was garbage, but not an enormous amount. It seems like previous years have done a good job.”

“It’s a noticeable decrease in trash, especially the big stuff,” Able said. “A lot of places are very clean. I have to commend the campers.”

Able also commended Northwest Bank, Weaver’s employer.

“It didn’t count as a day off,” Weaver said.

Jory Peterson was part of the United Refining Company team. Their employer also allows workers to clean up on work time.

“It’s a good time,” he said. “We found tires, a chair, an umbrella.”

He worked for the day with his brother-in-law, Timm Peterson.

They didn’t have much ‘success’ early in the trip, but they didn’t come in empty-handed.

“I was impressed,” Timm Peterson said. “On the last island we found some tires and hoses.”

Kirk Johnson, who has been involved with the clean-up since the beginning, had a similar experience. “I spent a lot of time on Crull’s Island Wilderness and Thompson’s Island Wilderness,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised.”

Both of those islands are among the Allegheny Islands Wilderness of the Allegheny National Forest.

The clean-up continues Tuesday: Wildwood to Tidioute; Friday: Tidioute to West Hickory; and Saturday: Allegheny Outfitters in Warren to Buckaloons.