Photo by Diane Secor

Volunteers Remove Tons Flood Debris

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Trucksville, PENNSYLVANIA, July 10, 2012 —North Branch Land Trust, Endless Mountains Heritage Region, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, North Branch Water Trail, Wyoming County Conservation District and Paddle Without Pollution are pleased to announce that a total of 7.6 tons of trash, scrap metal, and other flood debris have been removed from the Susquehanna River as a result of Operation North Branch, a community-wide river cleanup held on June 29-30, 2012. 

The partners of Operation North Branch: Restore the Susquehanna and 120 dedicated volunteers on land and in canoes, kayaks, and other boats scoured the shorelines and islands of the Susquehanna and gathered debris from Laceyville to Tunkhannock that had been deposited there by the flooding from last September’s Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene, as well as by the ongoing problem of illegal dumping. Several launch sites designated along the route were used to put paddlers in the water, and pull out sites was designated for debris collection. 

"So much debris conquered by so much volunteer spirit. It’s our love for the Susquehanna River that made Operation North Branch such a remarkable success," said Diane Secor of Wyoming County Water Trail Group. 

Over the course of two days, volunteers removed 3.96 tons of trash, including materials such as plastic bottles, Styrofoam, paint cans, turpentine, children’s toys, cigarette butts, plastic bags, building materials, and broken glass and light bulbs. They also removed 2.15 tons of scrap metal, including steel gas containers, hot water tanks, refrigerators, sinks, sheet metal siding, oil tanks, steel beams, chairs, and porch furniture. Volunteers also collected 159 tires (1.5 tons), ranging from standard car tires to heavy tractor tires; some were obviously illegally dumped. Together the operation resulted in the collection of 15,220 pounds of trash, debris, and hazardous materials. 

“This proved to be a tremendous opportunity for all of us to unite around an obvious problem and invest our collective energies into a practical solution. This private-public partnership is amazing and the efforts of those volunteering is inspiring," said Phil Swank of Endless Mountains Heritage Region.

The volunteers used their kayaks, canoes, a specialty crafted garbage barge, motorboats, and any means necessary to remove the debris from the Susquehanna River and its islands, some of which was far up in trees or buried in the mud. “It was a huge, inspiring success,” said David Rohm of Paddle Without Pollution. “We were honored to meet such dedicated and caring volunteers, and there’s talk of making this a yearly event.”

Operation North Branch was fortunate to have financial and in-kind support provided by Chesapeake Energy, USDA, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, P & G Paper Company, Wyoming County Kiwanis, Endless Mountain Outfitters, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, and others.

Rohm, Paddle Without Pollution, 412-260-9001
Barb Romanansky, North Branch Land Trust 570-696-5545