Volunteers sought for Allegheny Reservoir cleanup
There will be a cleanup of the Allegheny Reservoir on Saturday, May 14, but the details are still murky.
Volunteers will remove snags and rust from the water and the shore. Leading up to the event, organizers are dealing with their own snags and shaking the rust off of the volunteer process.
On Wednesday, a group of core leaders for the 18th annual event talked about a possible shortage of volunteers, an unavailable boat, and unpredictable weather.
As of Wednesday, nine people other than the leaders had signed up to participate. While that number is not a serious concern, neither is it an indication that there will be a major swell of support.
“People are out of the habit of coming,” Allegheny National Forest Aquatics Program Manager Nate Welker said. “You never know day-to-day if you’re going to get a snowstorm or a beautiful Saturday.”
The event is worth doing, with a handful of people or dozens. “It still makes sense to do as much as we can and build momentum going into the following year,” Welker said. “I would hate to see the reservoir cleanup come to an end. Even if this one is a smaller, first-time-back cleanup.”
Even the starting location “sounds like a game-time decision,” Welker said.
Recent cleanups have been based at the Onoville Marina as the downstream areas have gotten cleaner every year and organizers target sources farther north.
Cliff Redeye of the Seneca Nation Environmental Protection Department said he plans to station his efforts primarily out of Highbanks — several miles north of Onoville — and call for volunteers. Those plans could be changed, but he said he believes the community will respond better to that location than to Onoville. “We’re going to put it out there to the community.”
“If we have a groundswell of support from your end, I’m all for going up there,” Welker said.
If there are more volunteers available for an Onoville start, the original location could stand.
Or, both locations could be used if there are enough boats and heavy equipment to support that option.
Another complication this year is that an important piece of equipment from previous cleanups is unavailable. “Our Packman boat is out of commission,” Welker said.
That boat often does much of the heavy lifting.
The U.S. Forest Service is bringing another boat, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing two, and the Seneca Nation is supplying one.
That only nine volunteers have signed up so far is not a major concern. In previous years, there were no more than 40 who signed up in advance.
For the reservoir cleanups, “the general public has not always been a big piece of the project — a nice piece, but not necessarily a big piece,” Welker said.
He said a crew from Warren County Adult Probation is expected to participate as usual. Welker said taking that group even farther north — Onoville is out-of-county and -state already — would have to be a topic of discussion with probation officials.
Further details about the event will be released as they are finalized. Information is also available by visiting alleghenyrivercleanup.com/reservoir.