June 8, 2007
Time to clean up
Hackensack Riverkeeper effort at Lincoln Park next weekend
By Ricardo Kaulessar
Over the past eight years that a local non-profit organization has organized a cleanup of Jersey City's Lincoln Park near the Hackensack River, they have found beer cans, fishing lines, foam cups, and even a few refrigerators.
This year's cleanup, scheduled for this Saturday, June 16, may not produce any bulky kitchen appliances, but it will still provide enough opportunities for volunteers to make the area as garbage-free as possible.
"We do these cleanups to change people's attitudes about littering," said Lisa Ryan, operations director and volunteer coordinator at Hackensack Riverkeeper, the local version of the national non-profit Riverkeeper environmental organization. "People act like the world is their trash can."
Hackensack Riverkeeper has offices in Hackensack and Secaucus. It was founded in 1997 by Capt. Bill Sheehan, a longtime Hudson County resident, with the mission of protecting the waters and eco-system of the Hackensack River.
According to Ryan, this cleanup is one of eight Hackensack Riverkeeper does annually in different areas along the Hackensack River, a 45-mile long body of water than runs from northern Bergen County to the Newark Bay in southern Jersey City.
Where the cleanup goes
The June 16 cleanup will start at 10 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. Ryan said the cleanup will begin with a 20-minute orientation for volunteers to learn about the history of the Hackensack River and the work of the Hackensack Riverkeeper, and will include a light breakfast. They will meet at a location on the western side of the park, accessible by a car via a bridge that spans across Highway 1/9.
Then the cleanup will commence, with volunteers making their way down various trails toward the Hackensack River.
"We inform them of the areas to go, but I am sure we will let people do what they want to do," Ryan said. "Wherever the garbage is, it is going to end up in the water."
The focus of the cleanup will be under the Lincoln Highway Bridge, where fishing occurs on a fairly active basis. "Under the bridge, we find a lot of beer bottles, chicken packages and fishing lines," she said. "It gets very messy down there."
Ryan said dump trucks are provided by the Hudson County Parks Department. Trash will be placed there after it is picked up by volunteers.
The cleanup ends around 1 p.m., followed by lunch and informal discussion.
Ryan hopes that the volunteers, first-time and long-time, will gain an appreciation for keeping a waterway and the area around it clean from as many pollutants as possible, as the river has been ravaged by contaminants such as dioxin from the Diamond Shamrock Plant in Newark, dumped into the river in the 1960s.
Ryan would also like to see more volunteers than the 30 that usually show up for the Lincoln Park cleanup -- and particularly from the area around the park.
"We tried to get a press release out to the media as early as possible, and we sent out a schedule to our subscriber base, but still it ends up being the lowest attended of our cleanups," Ryan said. "I would say 50 would be great this year, and I would like to see more from Jersey City."
"I want to see more people be invested in their neighborhood and involved with the environment."
For more information on the cleanup, contact Lisa Ryan at (201) 968-0808 (office) or (201) 832-9432 (cell).
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org