We’re eager to get to work for the 3rd Annual Fort River Cleanup, part of the Connecticut River Conservancy’s 25th Annual Source to Sea Cleanup!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS – this year’s cleanup happening Saturday, September 25, 2021!

Click here to register for the Fort River Cleanup

  • All Fort River Cleanup volunteers will be welcome to meet for an in-person roundup at 10AM at Groff Park Saturday 9/25 for supplies, announcements, and snacks to go.  Masks will be required for this gathering regardless of vaccination status.
  • From there, we will dispatch our incredible team of cleaner-uppers to their respective cleanup sites throughout the watershed! We have 17 sites on our radar from past cleanups. If you have a site in need of some cleaning, please email us at fortriverwatershed@gmail.com
  • Cleanup supplies, t-shirts and a central location for trash drop-off will be available to all volunteers. Our cleanup crew is also available to help ensure your trash gets tallied and sent in to be counted towards the total impact of the Source to Sea Cleanup. Hey, there might even be coffee, too 😀
  • All volunteers will be required to register for this year’s cleanup and each participant will need to complete a registration form – including kids. This step is particularly important this year, as it offers us the information we need to contact all volunteers in case of a change or emergency before or after the event.  Registration can be completed online by following this linkplease be sure to select ‘Fort River Cleanup’ from the affiliate group drop down menu! For volunteers without online access, paper registration forms will be available on site at the cleanup.

Click here to register for the Fort River Cleanup

We will be keeping a close eye on what is happening with COVID and ready to pivot if necessary to keep our community safe. Please know that every effort will be made to make sure you are safe, comfortable, and able to joyfully contribute your time to this meaningful effort in the watershed!

Still have questions about this year’s cleanup? 

Interested in being part of the planning team for this year’s cleanup? We can use help and hands of all kinds, sizes, and abilities and we would love to work with you! 

Email us at fortriverwatershed@gmail.com – we’ll get you connected with our cleanup team! 

Fort River Cleanup sign

Cleaning the Fort River watershed = cleaning the Fort River.

Did you know that there’s more to a watershed than just water?

The Fort River watershed includes areas of Amherst, Hadley, Shutesbury, Pelham AND Belchertown. Trash in our watershed impacts the health of the water flowing in to the Fort River from our neighborhoods and cities. If you live, work or explore here –  we need your help! Consider joining us this September for the Fort River Cleanup, part of CRC’s Source to Sea Cleanup!

We need your help to keep the Fort River sparkling! The Source to Sea Cleanup is an annual event hosted by the Connecticut River Conservancy to remove trash from local waterways, boat launches, parks, shorelines, and more. In 2019, over 100 FoRWA volunteers made an incredible impact in beautifying areas along the Fort River.  We hosted a distributed cleanup over the month of September 2020, to keep group sizes small and ensure safe physical distancing. Cleaning supplies were made available for anyone who needed them, and then individuals or small groups worked independently throughout the month to clean up a site and report the trash they collect.

You can volunteer with the Fort River Watershed Association to clean up a site near you! Together we’ll keep cleaning up the Fort River watershed!

Can’t get to the river? No problem!! Cleaning up a trashed yard, street, parking lot, or sidewalk in our watershed helps the Fort River stay healthy.

Submitting Your Trash Tally

You can make sure the trash you find gets counted by submitting a trash tally to the Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC)! This information is CRITICAL in helping us track what flows in and through our watersheds year after year, and advocate for ways to keep our local rivers clean all year.

More information on how to submit a trash tally for this year’s cleanup coming soon 🙂

Counting Trash with CleanSwell

CleanSwell is a great FREE tool with a simple set of instructions – Find a piece of trash? Count it in the app, then pick up the trash and dispose of it.  

CleanSwell takes the information on the trash you collect, along with where and when you collected it, and does the rest to tell us – and the global litter-cleaning community – what’s happening in our watershed. When we know more about what’s polluting our watershed, we can do more to protect it through advocacy and more targeted actions – and you have the power to help us in a big, big way. Download the free app on your iPhone or Android, sign in to create an account and make sure your location services are turned on so the app can detect that you’re collecting trash in the Fort River watershed and be counted toward our trash totals.

Not a smartphone user? No problem! You can submit a trash tally using this online form, or by completing a paper form and mailing it in to us!

Trash, litter, what’s the difference?

Wherever there are people, there is trash. In our country, culture and communities – trash is generated at a startling rate. Recent global estimates suggest that between 0.5 and 4 million tons of plastic debris move through rivers each year. We all have a system for getting trash out of our homes and most communities have built systems that are designed to collect trash from its residents and handle it properly. This is what is called a ‘waste stream’ – a journey that starts when trash is created and ends when it has been properly disposed of. Proper trash disposal takes all kinds of forms but one thing is always true – proper disposal of trash happens at the hands of trained professionals and in facilities designated and regulated to deal with trash.

When trash makes it way outside of its waste stream – or when it doesn’t make it to the place designed to dispose of it properly – we call it ‘litter’.

Litter that finds its way outdoors often gets picked up by water traveling over our yards and playgrounds, school and parking lots, and makes its ways into our local waterways. Litter in around our waterways is harmful in a lot of ways – it can be mistaken for food by wildlife, cause injury to people and animals, and leach chemicals into the environment, just to name a few.

How can WE help?

We can clean up the litter that we see, and make sure the trash we generate gets properly disposed of. The Fort River Cleanup, part of CRC’s Source to Sea Cleanup, is an important way everyone can take action to protect their local waterways.

Safety Guidelines

Our greatest priority is the health and well-being of you, our volunteers!  CRC and FoRWA continue to monitor the progress of COVID 19 and follow the guidance offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the public health departments of each state in which we are working.  The situation is fluid and we are committed to keeping you informed as best we can. Here are the guidelines we will ask you to follow to keep yourself and our communities safe while participating in the Source to Sea cleanup during the COVID 19 pandemic.

General Safety:

Cleanup tips – your safety comes first!

  1. Never go it alone, when possible.
  2. Keep a safe physical distance of at least 6 feet at all times between yourself and people you don’t live with. Face masks should be worn when physical distancing is not possible.  For many people, washable fabric face masks are a great alternative to single-use masks. Be sure to only touch your mask at the earpieces when taking on and off. Face masks are only effective when they are fully covering both your mouth and nose.
  3. Wear gloves. Consider a pair of rubber gloves that are only for trash collecting that you can reuse, as an alternative to disposable plastic gloves. In addition to gloves, consider using a trash grabber or pick-stick to help you reach low trash without all the bending over (You can see how make here and here and here).
  4. Please make sure to take off gloves properly (how to properly remove gloves) and dispose of single-use gloves and masks appropriately.
  5. Make sure to dress appropriately for the weather and where you are going to be – boots or sneakers, a hat or sunglasses, stream-friendly sunscreen.
  6. Make sure to stay hydrated!
  7. Wash up thoroughly upon returning from your trash collecting. Here’s a guide to the CDC’s recommendations for effective hand washing.
  8. Watch where you step! Please pay particular attention to poison ivy (what poison ivy looks like) and unstable/steep banks. Everyone in your cleanup group should do a thorough tick check after your cleanup (how to do a tick check).
  9. Be aware of your surroundings and respect the dangers of working around water – cold water, slippery surfaces or loose/eroding riverbanks.
  10. When it comes to wildlife – look, don’t touch and give the right of way to passing critters.
  11. When you’re caring for the river, consider being open to how the river can care for you in return. Take in a deep breath of fresh air, soak in the sound of the running water, bask in the view.
  12. No needles, broken glass, used personal items or hazardous waste should ever be collected without the proper equipment and training.
  13. Do not handle any hazardous waste – this includes chemicals that are flammable, explosive or poisonous, or anything that you do not feel safe handling (like needles). If you find any hazardous waste, please tell us what you found by submitting the Hazardous Materials Report Form or reporting directly to the U.S. EPA or Massachusetts Emergency Response Agency.

CleanSwell tip:

It can be difficult to pick up trash with one hand, and count your trash on your smartphone in the other hand. If you’re cleaning with other household members, consider making one person in your cleanup group the official trash counter – they will handle the smartphone, or trash tally, with non-trash hands, while the rest of the group cleans up. If you’re cleaning solo, consider sorting and counting trash once you return to a place where you can wash your hands before handing your cell phone.

If Cleaning by Boat:

  • Bring your own boat and gear. OR if you need to borrow, ask someone ahead of time, and make sure you sanitize everything you touch before and after. Bring your sanitizer of choice.
  • Always have one lifejacket for every person on the boat and consider wearing it at all times. Children under 12 must always wear a lifejacket on a boat.
  • Avoid communal shuttling. Consider dropping a bike for one person to ride back to the car if necessary.
  • Maintain proper physical distance from all people at all times, including when loading boats, paddling, walking to the put in, etc.
  • If you feel sick at all, please stay home.
  • Keep your group size small so as to be able to keep the 6 foot distancing at all times and be mindful of state limits on gatherings at the time of your cleanup.

CDC Guidance for Events

Massachusetts Covid 19 Guidance

CDC Guidelines Boating

Thank you for your help in keeping our local waters clean!