Dylan Hereth of Saco throws some couch cushions he found alongside the Saco River into a truck Sept. 10 at the Skelton Dam boat launch in Dayton.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

Dylan Hereth of Saco throws some couch cushions he found alongside the Saco River into a truck Sept. 10 at the Skelton Dam boat launch in Dayton.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

DAYTON — Flip flops, sneakers, socks, tires, beach toys, plywood, bottles, cans, and even the proverbial kitchen sink — tons of trash —were removed from the Saco River on Sept. 10.

More than 80 volunteers showed up at Saco Salmon Restoration Alliance and Hatchery’s third annual Saco River Trash Drive.

Some took off in canoes, kayaks or small powerboats to clean riverbanks, others took off on foot along the shore. 

A load of trash in a boat collected from the Saco River on Sept. 10 at he Skelton Dam boat launch in Dayton.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

A load of trash in a boat collected from the Saco River on Sept. 10 at he Skelton Dam boat launch in Dayton.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

In total, 32 truckloads of trash, an estimated 7 tons, were collected from a 20-mile stretch of the Saco River, beginning at Bar Mills and going down river toward the Atlantic Ocean. 

Saco River Restoration Alliance President Rick LaRiviere helped other volunteers transfer a boat load of trash from to the back of a truck at the Skelton Dam boat launch, carrying weather-beaten shoes and crushed beer cans.

“This is what’s in your drinking water,” he said.

Other items included a rusted out 20 gallon milk jug, couch cushions, a drive shaft, a water-logged and very heavy sleeping bag and a rubber ducky.

“There’s always a rubber ducky,” said LaRiviere.

David Robinson of Steep Falls, a member of the Saco River Corridor Commission, said he has a strong interest in the river, and has written a book about the river and done paintings of it. He teamed up with another volunteer and went out on the river searching cove areas where trash tends to settle. He said the event was a great way to spend a beautiful day giving back to the community.

“I think it creates public ownership,” said Maine Game Warden Tim Spahr. He said to see the benefit of the clean-up effort all one needed to do was take a look at the amount of trash that had been collected.

Volunteers came in all ages.

Kierstin Oliver and Dylan Hereth of Saco and their 4-year-old son, Winslow, were cleaning near the Skelton Dam boat launch.

“Everybody has to do their part,” said Hereth.

The family had moved to the area from Oregon about a year ago, and they wanted to get involved with the community.

“It’s a good way to connect with some people here,” said Oliver.

Taking care of the environment is obviously important to the family, and young Winslow was eager to explain why it was so important.

“We have to take care of Mother Earth,” he said. He said animals like bird and fish can get hurt if they are tangled up in trash or get sick if they eat it. Also, he said, picking up trash helps plants grow.

The event was held in conjunction with Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife & the Maine Forest Service Landowner Appreciation Day. LaRiviere said he hopes to collaborate with other groups to expand the scope of the cleaning in the future.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]


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