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Group organizes Mohawk River cleanup

From village streets to the county's waterways, volunteers from all over Scotia and Glenville are working to clean things up.

On Sunday, Sept. 21, the Schenectady County Environmental Advisory Council will host a cleanup event along the Mohawk River to deal with all the trash that typically accumulates by summer's end.

Coordinator and longtime environmental activist Mary DeKing of Scotia said it's a feel-good event.

Just knowing that we are doing our part here is such a great feeling. It makes you feel as though you can make a difference along waters that connect us to all over the world, said DeKing.

DeKing said the cleanup is part of a national and worldwide effort. Locally it is coordinated by the New York State Chapter of the American Littoral Society, a coastal conservation nonprofit organization. The goals of the project are to clean and document what litters shores and waterways, compile data from cleanup efforts to devise strategies to combat marine pollution and to get people involved in solving the problem of pollution.

The cleanup started locally about 10 years ago, and De King said it has grown every year at a consistent pace. She said that over the past few years the group has had a more difficult time getting people together because of schedules, especially those families with school-age children. She said it's important to remember that even though there is a designated day, it's really more about cleaning up the waters before the cold weather sits in.

"There may be rain or a shortage of volunteers. It's really more of a feeling of, 'Let's get it cleaned up today, tomorrow, now before later,'" said DeKing.

DeKing said she first heard about the cleanup day in states like Oregon, Washington and California, where the winds are known to bring in an abundance of litter onto the shore. She said the project has now spread to smaller bodies of water like the Mohawk River. She said she and the other volunteers collect data that is coordinated with national numbers. She said they put together an in-depth report showing what types of litter are more prominent in certain areas.

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