BRISTOL-Upper Notch Road in Bristol may wind through some of Vermont's most scenic woodlands in the Green Mountain National Forest region, but don't look too closely. Strewn below the dirt road, on a steep bank leading down to a roaring feeder tributary of the New Haven River that drains off Gilmore Pond, is an unsightly junkyard that has been been an illegal dumping ground for more than 20 years.
Nearby resident Burt DeGraw was appalled of the dumping along the road and decided to coordinate a personal effort to clean up some of the mess left by furtive night dumpers.
Just in time for annual Earth Day and Vermont Green Up Day activities, DeGraw volunteered his own time and labor, with some risk to his own safety, in pulling up some of the larger pieces of trash from from the steep slope directly above the seething spring torrent.
DeGraw's nasty haul included rusting bed frames, mouldering armchairs and sofas, plywood scraps, bed-bug infested matresses, discarded plastic water jugs, rotting carpet remnants, and things too objectionable to mention in a family newspaper.
Following in his footsteps, a group of Americorps volunteers were called in to continue the work. Together, the unlikely team created a large pile of refuse for the Town of Bristol to pick up and dispose of-legally.
"On May 9, a group of Americorps young adults joined me in the ongoing clean up to get about 98 percent of the remaining garbage," DeGraw said. "It now sits in a big pile by the roadside waiting for the town to pick up."
According to DeGraw, the owner of Mary's Restaurant at Baldwin Creek suggested he contact Americorps.
"I was unaware of this national organization or it's purpose. These young volunteers travel all over the USA helping communities with cleanup after storms as well as with Earth Day cleanup and planting activities," he said.
The civic-minded young adults, ranging in age from their teens to their mid 20s, worked tirelessly in the rain and mud last weekend to haul bags of garbage up the steep road bank.
"Without compaint or rest, these volunteers helped all day Saturday. I think they deserve some praise," DeGraw said.