Pack your paddles and wear your waders — it’s time for the yearly community-wide effort to remove trash from local waterways.
The Connecticut River Conservancy’s 25th Annual Source to Sea River Cleanup will be taking place in three locations next week: Keene, Swanzey and — for the first time — Winchester.
Each year, the nonprofit organizes a collaborative effort across four states — New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut — to clean its namesake river.
Last year, more than 1,000 volunteers picked up nearly 35 tons of trash along the river, cumulatively covering about 260 miles, according to the Connecticut River Conservancy.
In the Monadnock Region, about 45 volunteers picked up 1,585 pounds of trash, according to Amanda Littleton, district manager of the Cheshire County Conservation District. The district is one of the sponsors of this year’s local cleanup.
Littleton has participated in the river cleanup since 2007, and in that time she’s known volunteers to pull everything from home water heaters to flat-screen televisions out of the local tributaries.
“It’s shocking how much ends up in our waterways,” she said.
Organizers will provide trash bags and gloves. For those who have them, small boats — like kayaks, canoes and paddle boats — and life jackets are encouraged but not necessary, according to the Cheshire County Conservation District.
Venturing out by foot and on boat, volunteers in the area will come together to clean local sections of Connecticut River tributaries.
The weekend-long effort will start Friday, Sept. 24, at Ashuelot River Park in Keene, with cleaning scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
During those same hours on Saturday, Sept. 25, volunteers will have a few options. Participants with boats can meet up on the river by Martell Court in Keene or by the Cresson Covered Bridge on Sawyers Crossing Road in Swanzey. People who still want to help out but don’t have boats can meet at Beaver Brook on Water Street in Keene.
The effort will wrap up that Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m., with volunteers meeting at Winchester Town Hall where maps will be distributed, directing participants to different areas along the Ashuelot River.
“We’re really encouraging our neighboring towns to come out and participate with Winchester,” said Natalie Quevedo, who is a member of the Winchester Conservation Commission and Ashuelot River Local Advisory Committee.
As this is the town’s first time participating in the cleanup, she said she expects there will be an accumulation of garbage that volunteers can make a dent in.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how much trash we can pull out — years and years and years of trash,” she said.
But beyond cultivating a healthier environment for wildlife, she said she’s looking forward to the benefits the event will bring to residents too.
“It’s a community-building event where people can come out and take pride in their community by cleaning the place that they live in.”
The event is open to anyone willing to get a little soggy and grimy, Littleton said.
“I just love the enthusiasm of the volunteers and the fact that we get such a wide range of our community to come out,” she said. “It’s such a collaborative effort of individuals and families and organizations.”
People interested in participating are encouraged to register in advance for the cleanup at cheshireconservation.org/s2s.