BRAT makes a

Vermont's waterways are often perceived as being pristine places where wildlife thrives in abundance. While this perception is largely correct-thanks to years of environmental awareness and strict regulations that support clean lakes and streams-problem areas still persist. Case in point: the Black River in the Ludlow-Springfield area. Keeping this waterway clean requires vigilance and volunteers.

Recently, a team of volunteers, known as the Black River Action team made a clean sweep of the river in Windsor County during an annual field event known as RiverSweep.

In just a few hours during operation RiverSweep, 75 enthusiastic BRAT volunteers on foot and aboard personal boats, filled a dozen shopping carts with debris hauled from the banks of the Black River in the Springfield area. Included in the debris field was a discarded trailer axle, bowling pins, bicycles, machine parts and lots more.

BRAT volunteers-who come out in force every summer for RiverSweep-include local Boy Scouts, and employees from Black River Produce. Among the green volunteers were

veteran Marita Johnson and first-timers Edwin Fransen and Brandon Greene.

Of special note joining this year's cleanup were employees of the produce company were especially eager to help with RiverSweep since the firm was vandalized Aug. 8-environmental criminals were behind the release of thousands of gallons of diesel fuel into the Black River.

Employing a battered aluminum canoe as a makeshift trash barge, volunteers paddled their kayaks or waded downstream from North Springfield to a boom installed to capture the floating diesel fuel last month. The team collected so much trash and metal debris that they had to deposit the junk at multiple locations for pickup.

Volunteers in the recent RiverSweep effort included Cub Scout Pack 258 and Boy Scout Troop 252 among others.

During the day, BRAT team members continued to haul out a shocking load of debris discarded by irresponsible Vermonters: rusting shopping carts, a hubcap, a pair of pillows, nearly 200 pounds of broken plaster molds, a stop sign and a street sign for Maple Street, two partial bicycles, an entire intact bike.

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