Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 Clean Sweep Patch - The Split Rock Turkey

Our 2015 Clean Sweep patch pays tribute to the Split Rock Turkey, the "Queen of the Corner" who has been patrolling the intersection of Bridgeport Avenue and Commerce Drive in her search for food.   See a blog post from "In the Field" for more about Shelton's favorite turkey.

The 2015 patch reminds us all that litter isn't only unsightly; it can be harmful to wildlife. In some cases, it's pretty obvious. Animals can become entangled in fishing line, balloon ribbons, or six-pack rings. They may also confuse latex balloons or pieces of plastic for food, and die from digestive obstruction. Plastic tends to wash downstream to Long Island Sound and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean, where it can be stuck in currents for years as it breaks down into smaller particles that may be eaten by fish.

Less obvious is how litter harms wildlife when it's in the form of food. The Split Rock Turkey should be living in the forest instead of strolling about a dangerous intersection, but she has learned to associate people and cars with food. Undoubtedly, people are throwing out scraps for her. It might be well intentioned, deliberate feeding, or she may just be finding litter that has food scraps. Most likely it's a combination. But the end result is the same - she is now living in the streets, looking for scraps.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Cleaning up the Far Mill Swimming Hole - Again

L to R: Terry Gallagher, Ian Boath, John Boath, Joseph Cayes, Sandra Lundin, Jonathan Dean, and Emma Gallagher. Not shown: Ron Pilkowicz, Gil Pastore, Kelly Hanna, and Teresa Gallagher
[Follow-up Nov. 2014: A joint letter from the Shelton Conservation Commission and Anti-Litter Committee was sent to the Stratford Parks & Recreation Commission requesting that Stratford supply and service trash containers for users of this park. See letter here.]

Residents responded to the challenge and hauled a mountain of trash from Far Mill River Park. The humidity was about 150%. We picked up ~20 large bags of trash, a big plastic piece of lattice, a couple of coolers, tarps, big plastic toys, a child's swing, grill parts, a swimming noodle, tires, four heavy duty metal supports, a chair, and more. We also hauled a plastic garbage can out of the river. The Far Mill River Association said they had installed a can at the entryway and it had gone missing, so that would probably be it. We also spent a lot of time repairing the trail that some bikers were messing with.  

Keep in mind that just two weeks ago, 13 large bags of trash were hauled out of there, as well as a lot of other large items.  
They looked for a garbage can and couldn't find one. 
We need official, heavy-duty garbage cans there, routinely serviced by paid staff, and chained to something so they don't get thrown in the river. There should a garbage can at the entryway, and a garbage can down by the swimming hole during peak summer months. Yes, people should be mature enough to haul the trash back to their cars, but they don't. Many people who are littering are willing to use a garbage can if one would be supplied. So let's do that. The Town of Stratford owns the park but isn't really impacted -- out of sight, out of mind. Stratford residents don't care about it and neither do Stratford's leaders (apparently). Leaders for the City of Shelton don't want to use Shelton tax dollars to maintain a Stratford Park, which is a legitimate argument, but does nothing to help resolve a situation that is primarily impacting Shelton residents and which is occurring in Shelton. Note that the trailhead is located directly across the street from the Shelton Transfer Station (behind #865 River Road - formerly ASO Sports).  

This bag was so overfull it required a net to haul it out
Park users, some of them at least, do try to put their garbage where they think it belongs. A lot of people coming here are from urban areas (New York, New Haven and Bridgeport). They are accustomed to urban parks with park staff and garbage cans. They are apparently not familiar with the concept of "unimproved" conservation lands and carry in-carry out ethics. So they look for a trash can. If one isn't around, they figure the park staff made a mistake or something, and start filling up any bag they happen to have with them. Other people add to the bags, stuffing them so full the bag cannot be carried. In the photo above, the very heavy bag being hauled out by a volunteer required a heavy-duty net to keep it from falling apart. It was overfull because park users were trying to dispose of their trash properly. 

Ian and John Boath haul bags from the Swimming Hole to the parking lot
In addition to picking up litter, one of the trails needed serious repair after some kids dug it up to build jumps. That took several hours of heavy, dirty work. But the trail was completely repaired.
Terry after a several hours of earthwork on the trail

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Far Mill River "Swimming Hole"

UPDATE July 2020: This park as been essentially closed to the public due to extreme problems with littering and noise at all hours. 

Far Mill River Park is owned by Stratford, but public access and much of the park is located within Shelton. The place is very, very scenic and every summer it is mobbed by people who drive from as far away as New York to cool down.  Sadly, mountains of litter are left behind, and Shelton residents get stuck picking it up.  Many hands make light work, however.  Now that the summer hoards are gone, it is time to clean up the area for the enjoyment of all.

The "Swimming Hole" is part of Shelton's heritage, starting with the earliest Shelton mills, the ruins of which are scattered across the park.  About 100 years ago, a trolley line was constructed from Bridgeport to an amusement park called Pine Rock Park that was built above the river.  The amusement park was short-lived and was soon developed into summer cottages that took advantage of the nearby falls. Summer homes were converted to year-round dwellings over time.  Through it all, the Swimming Hole has been a major scenic attraction. Let's keep it that way.  Here's a video of a cleanup in August. We had a lot of hot weather after that, so we can all assume the park needs a good clean-up once again.
Trolley Line bridge abutment near Rt 110 in Far Mill River Park

Thursday, June 19, 2014

2014 Clean Sweep Awards

"Volunteer of the Year" awards (back) and Certificates of Appreciation
Every year we award hundreds of Certificates of Appreciation and custom iron-on patches to people who have helped out with Clean Sweep. Most of these are requested for Scouts. We then choose a "Volunteer of the Year" for three different categories: Business, Civic Group, and Individual. We exclude Adopt-a-Street participants since they already have a street sign with their name on it.

Individual Category - George Waters
George Waters won the Volunteer of the Year award for the Individual Category due to his year-round efforts to remove litter from the Housatonic River by kayak and canoe.

Civic Group - Boy Scout Troop 28
And Boy Scout Troop 28 did it again this year by holding not just one big cleanup, but four. Four!

Business - Tighe & Bond
Tighe & Bond does a big cleanup every year, but this time they partnered with the Shelton Land Conservation Trust to clean up some newly donated property off of Providence Drive along the headwaters of Ivy Brook.

Link:  See photos and a list of everyone who participated in Clean Sweep and what they cleaned up.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Clean Sweep Across Shelton

We have more pictures coming in as people are out in force cleaning up their neighborhoods. Here are just a few:

Girl Scout Troops 60778 and 60443 cleaned up Elizabeth Shelton School. 

Cub Scout Pack 27 cleaned up East Village Park

Litter collected by George Waters along Canal Street

Items removed from the Far Mill River by the Pastore Family

Monday, April 21, 2014

Shelton Land Trust with Tighe & Bond

Tighe & Bond joined forces with the Shelton Land Trust this year to clean up a newly preserved property along Ivy Brook near Constitution Blvd South. This is the Land Trust newest property, and they got quite the haul from it.

Boy Scout Troop 28

Year after year, Boy Scout Troop 28 is one of our extreme overachievers when it comes to Clean Sweep projects. This year, it was not enough to pick up litter from one location, so they chose four.   They have hauled enormous piles of garbage out of the woods every spring since 2008, the first year of Shelton Clean Sweep. There were the "Volunteer of the Year" for the group category for three out of four years, and "Heavy Metal Champions" for the fourth year.  Here's a look back on their Clean Sweep projects, starting with the four locations they cleaned this year:

2014 - Along Shelton Ave, near the Dog Park

2014 - Shelton Ave at the Powerlines

2014 - Wiacek Open Space, near the High School, Paugussett Trail

2014 - Mohegan Open Space, at Mohegan Road & Far Mill Street

2008 - Junk hauled up from steep ravine at Riverview Park, first year of Clean Sweep.

2009 - Riverview Park, junk hauled up from steep ravine

2010 - Huntington Street Open Space (near Maple Lane)

2011 Shelton Ave Near the Dog Park

2012 Boehm Pond Open Space

2013 Junk removed from the Wiacek Open Space

Friday, April 4, 2014

2014 Clean Sweep Patch

Here's the patch design for Shelton Clean Sweep 2014.  Each year we have a custom design and give the patches out (free!) to people who have picked up litter.  Scouts in particular like the iron-on patches. Often the patches are attached to certificates of appreciation signed by the Mayor.  It's all done by request via the website, since some people prefer patches but no certificates, others prefer certificates but no patches, and some don't want anything.

The custom patch series began in 2010, and this is our 5th design.  We order 500 patches, and have very few left over after the event. Last year we also donated 75 of the patches to the Housatonic River Cleanup organizers to hand out at the Sunnyside Boat Launch.