'Canal Clean Sweep' spruces up sites for season
Local groups, Boy Scouts pitch in at Schoharie Crossing, other parks
FORT HUNTER Until Saturday Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site had never participated in the New York state Canal Corporation’s annual volunteer spring cleaning event, called the “Canal Clean Sweep.”
Tricia Shaw, education coordinator for Schoharie Crossing, said in past years her operation had five full-time state employees, two of whom would normally have been doing spring cleaning right about now in preparation for the summer tourism season. State budget cuts have reduced her staffing to three, so on Saturday she organized about 26 volunteers to participate in the 6th Annual Canal Clean Sweep. She had volunteers from the Montgomery County Water Quality Committee, Members of the Schoharie River Center, the Capital Region Geocachers and members of Boy Scout Troop 70 from Saratoga Springs.
She was impressed with the results.
“[The volunteers] did a better job. A much better job,” she said.
Schoharie Crossing was one of about 90 locations along the Erie Canal system that participated in the annual clean-up Saturday. The event, which is sponsored by the Canal Corporation and Parks & Trails NY, is organized on the local level all along the canal system. It is expected to draw approximately 1,000 volunteers to help clear brush, garbage and other debris. Some of the other local clean-up locations Saturday included Aqueduct Park in Niskayuna and Kiwanis Park in Rotterdam.
Shaw’s volunteers cleaned up the area around the Yankee Hill Picnic Area at Lock 28, Putman’s Culvert and Lock 29, known as the Empire Lock. The Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site is the only location in the state where visitors can see all three stages of the Erie Canal’s development side by side. Visitors can see remnants of the original Erie Canal, known as Clinton’s Ditch, built in the 1820s, the enlarged canal built in the 1840s, known as the Old Erie Canal and the modern day Barge Canal completed in 1917.
mother and son
Christopher Parker, a member of the Capital Region Geocachers, and his mother Jackie Parker, a member of Adirondack Mountain Club, decided to spend Saturday helping with the clean-up. She’s from Halfmoon and he’s from Rotterdam. Jackie said the clean-up effort is important to maintaining the aesthetics of the area around the canal.
“What happens is all of the brush starts to come in and it hides everything, if you don’t get to it now,” she said.
Christopher Parker said it’s important for geocachers like himself to help keep clean the system of trails geocachers use to hide things. Geocaching is a kind of scavenger hunt game in which people hide items and others seek them using Global Positioning System devices and clues. After the clean-up Saturday he was looking for a geocach on the trail near Schoharie Crossing.
Tom Ostrander, the treasurer for Boy Scout Troop 70, said the clean-up satisfied two requirements for advancement for the Scouts, a five-mile-hike and at least an hour’s worth of community service.
“The adults were doing a lot of raking and the boys were bagging a lot of leaves. It looked a heck of a lot better when we were done. We must have bagged up 30 to 40 bags of leaves,” he said.
Free T-shirts, bottled water, lunch and trash bags were provided at all the clean-up events by the Canal Corporation.
Corporation Director Brian Stratton, formerly of the mayor of Schenectady, said the clean sweep is a way for volunteer groups to pitch in and make sure the area around the canal is kept clean for boating, hiking, biking or just walking.
“It’s also done in observation of Earth Day,” he said. “We probably had dozen or more people show up at every event, so we probably had at least 1,000 people participating in the clean-up. We certainly appreciate all of the volunteers who’ve come out.”
Stratton said more clean-up events are occurring today and some others later this month. One local event will be the Champlain Canal Clean Sweep in Schuylerville. The event will run fro 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Play Garden on Lock 5 Island off of Route 4 in Schuylerville. Volunteers are asked to wear boots and work gloves and if possible bring a bucket, and bow
saws to help blaze trails.