Earth Day reminds us how we often overlook so much around us and very often, some places could use some love. This month, Earth Day is calling from woods and waters and we have two wonderful opportunities to clean and appreciate land and water and your help is needed. Land health is innately connected to water health and our very lives depend on both. You can walk with Trout Unlimited to help clean up a pretty piece of Arcadia which passes over the Wood River or along a quiet piece of river just begging for attention, which is precisely what she’s finally getting.
In “The River of the Mother of God”, Aldo Leopold wrote, “Land health is the capacity for self-renewal in the soils, waters, plants, and animals that collectively comprise the land.” This Earth Day, the land is calling for some help in the self-renewal department.
Trout Unlimited needs your help for Earth Day
Trout Unlimited’s Earth Day/Adopt A Roadway Cleanup will kick off the weekend at 10:00 am on Saturday, April 24. We’re all busy and Trout Unlimited’s president, Glenn Place, has always understood that, which is why he typically went way overboard with delicious foods and coffees for volunteers but then the whole pandemic thing happened and now we can’t have some of that which we used to enjoy. So this year, there will be bottled water with the outside chance of some prepackaged treats but no amazing buffet, which is hardly a reason not to help.
“Remember this is your watershed and this is one of the most important ways that you can help keep our watershed healthy and looking beautiful” Glenn said. The section of Route 165 we’ll be cleaning is substantial so we need lots of people. If you want to help Trout Unlimited, meet at the Route 165 check station in Exeter, help yourself to gloves, bags, a vest and possibly a few stories of Glenn’s infamous post volunteer event feeds and possibly join the organization.
Walking a busy road, where few will slow to inquire as to your full sack of pitched plastics, tangling with thorny dangling briars to remove torn plastic bags fetched up over stained waters where others paddle canoes or reaching deep for wrinkled aluminum cans reflecting a spring’s morning sun may not reverse the ills of man’s easy disregard for shared natural wonders but it just may help reconnect you with the fragile community of water and land right along another busy road. As more people begin to wander, it’s also our chance to teach them how to protect and respect water and land.
Earth Day cleanup on South Kingstown’s Saugatucket River
The Saugatucket River runs through a stretch of South County dotted with brick mills and their once power grabbing dams. While her headwaters trickle in from just north of Route 138, she is pushed along by waters from several man-made ponds and impoundments often again restrained by dams. She is slow, dirty and littered, shaded by buildings and fallen timber, clogged with trash of metal, wood and brick and too warm and shallow in many stretches to support fish. She is stocked with trout in a tired tradition so a few can chest pump for a cookie cutter before any remaining hatchery stock perish in stagnant, anoxic edges. Between a car dealership and offices, she falls over another old relic where cashmere was spun for elites and kersey cloth was sewn for slaves. Finally she meets the head of tide and under strong moons, striped bass circling for river herring and eels. But she is lovely nonetheless.
A new group of volunteers, Friends of the Saugatucket, is raising awareness of her path, purpose and place in contemporary life. A fine way to introduce yourself to the river and the group is to help with a cleanup on Sunday, April 25 where the dedicated people working to “promote and enhance the natural and cultural features of the Saugatucket River and its watershed for the benefit of the river and its surrounding lands and community,” will meet in the parking lot of Old Mountain Field on Kingstown Road in South Kingstown, RI at 9:00 am. Earth Day is calling!
Stepping into a peaceful forested time machine with a three weight or launching a small canoe to see what might be discovered along Main or River Street shouldn’t begin with stepping over old fading Miller cans. We always try to believe all those cans, bottles and nips just accidentally flew out of a truck bed on the way to a recycling center because there’s just no way, in this day and age, that people would intentionally throw trash out a window or into a stream. That said, our roads are awash in trash and you’re needed for a few hours to remove some of it.
Aldus Leopold, that great conservator, hunter, writer and teacher and articulate observer of how our world is changing rapidly, wrote in his seminal “A Sand County Almanac”, “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” A few Earth Day weekend hours will go a long way to restoring your place in that community.
You can reach Trout Unlimited at www. rhodeisland.tu.org and Friends of the Saugatucket at www.friendsofthesaugatucket.wordpress.com. You can always reach us at email@example.com if you need help connecting with either group.