4/11/2013 - The Manchester Urban Ponds Restoration Program’s volunteers are ready to get their boots wet and their hands dirty.
The program’s annual pond cleanups are set to kick off this month. This is the 14th year the program has partnered with the Manchester Department of Public Works, Manchester Parks & Recreation, and Manchester Environmental Protection Division.
Since 2000, the Manchester Urban Ponds Restoration Program has organized 87 clean-up events. During the past 12 years, 618 volunteers have spent 2,094 hours collecting 1,781 bags of trash. This does not include the items illegally dumped, such as shopping carts, tires, car batteries and construction debris. In addition, the value of volunteer time spent at these cleanups has amounted to more than $40,000, according to Jen Drociak, who coordinates the volunteer cleanups.
Volunteers have found all kinds of surprising trash, including a jacuzzi, a riding lawnmower, a golden buddha statue and a gun.
Drociak scaled back the cleanups a couple years ago, from cleanups twice a year to just a spring cleanup. Cleanups take place at Mcquesten Brook, Dorrs Pond, Black Brook, Stevens Pond, Crystal Lake and Nutts Pond. Each cleanup typically lasts two or three hours. Several organizations provide volunteers for the cleanup. Anheuser-Busch coordinates a major volunteer cleanups day each year atMcQuesten Brook.
Measuring progress can be difficult on the trash front. Drociak looks at each site on a case-by-case basis. She never knows what she and volunteers are going to find.
Precourt Park recently underwent a renovation. Since then, Drociak said, she’s seen an improvement.
“People seem to care about it and [are]willing to take care of it,” Drociak said.
A few years ago, the trash tally at Black Brook was particularly high, but Drociak figured that was probably tied more to the removal of the brook’s dam than to it actually having more trash that year. When the dam was removed, it decreased the amount of land that was underwater, uncovering 50 years worth of trash. Overall, Drociak said she’s seen an improvement at Black Brook.
The cleanup effort always needs volunteers, particularly for Nutts Pond. Nutts Pond has always needed the most work, Drociak said, at least partially because its abuts ball fields and trash from the fields often blow over into the pond area.
The prevalence for shopping carts at Nutts Pond is a little more difficult to explain.
Last year was the first year volunteers were able to recycle items. Volunteers are hoping to do that again this year, Drociak said. Last year, the Manchester DPW provided recycling totes for cleanups.
“That was exciting for us,” Drociak said. “We were able to divert [large quantities] of recyclable materials.”
Some volunteers will strap on hip waders and go into the water to retrieve items. Drociak suggested at least wearing sneakers and clothes you don’t mind getting grubby.