BRAT celebrates 20 years of cleaning the Black River

REGION – Celebrating the group’s 20th anniversary, the Black River Action Team chalks up another successful year of cleaning trash from the bed and banks of our local waterways. Dozens of volunteers worked at various locations over the course of several months in targeted cleanups of specific sites.

Steve and Maura Anderson with a tub of trash they collected from the lowest mile of the Black River
Steve and Maura Anderson with a tub of trash they collected from the lowest mile of the Black River. Photo by Kelly Stettner

Among the season’s “finds” were 90 tires, a pair of wading boots, a camp chair, an entire picnic camp including a charcoal grill, and dozens of bags of food wrappers, cigarette trash, bottles, cans, personal items, and face masks.

Volunteers in Springfield traversed the entire Toonerville Trail, removed a stash of tires from the water in two separate locations, tidied up Hoyt’s Landing every weekend, and scoured the river banks for several miles throughout the summer.

Public school students and home learners in Cavendish and Ludlow organized into “quaran-teams” with teachers and adult volunteers to tackle several river sites in those communities. In addition to several bags of trash, these intrepid kids removed an enormous amount of the invasive plant Japanese knotweed, known to take over entire stream banks and crowd out all native vegetation as well as increase erosion.

On RiverSweep Day in Springfield, volunteers with the Calvary Baptist Church brought a grill and all the works to cook up hot dogs for the Springfield cleanup volunteers. The hot dogs were purchased with a generous donation from Heritage Engineering, along with chips from Deep River Snacks. The student volunteers enjoyed pizza donated by Goodman’s American Pie of Ludlow.

BRAT Director Kelly Stettner thanks each and every donor – all are listed alphabetically on this year’s super red tee shirts – for their generous support of the RiverSweep and all the BRAT’s programs. Stettner especially thanks the cleanup crews who really got “down ‘n’ dirty” this year to help keep the Black River clean and healthy.

Learn more about BRAT at or by sending a message to Kelly at or 802-738-0456.

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