Weekend cleanup pulls 1,600 pounds of junk from Whippany River in Morristown

Volunteers at Whippany River cleanup in Morristown, May 1, 2021. Photo courtesy of WRWAC.
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From the Whippany River Watershed Action Committee:

Whippany River Watershed cleanup nets 1,600 pounds
of litter, debris, car engine, engine cover, bicycle and more

Dozens of Morris County residents participated in the annual Whippany River Watershed Clean Up on Saturday sponsored by the Whippany River Watershed Action Committee (WRWAC).

Volunteers Chris, Jason and Ethan at
Whippany River cleanup in Morristown, May 1, 2021. Photo courtesy of WRWRAC.

The stewardship organization of the Whippany River teamed with the Bethel AME Church of Morristown and the Town of Morristown to pick up more than 37 garbage bags of trash along Bishop Nazery Way and Patriot’s Path, just off Martin Luther King Drive.

The cleanup has been an annual event since Tropical Storm Irene flooded the area. The Whippany River winds through 16 towns in Morris County along its 16-mile course.

Alison Deeb, facilitator for the committee, said volunteers from Morristown, Morris Township, Morris Plains, Hanover and Madison started gathering at the site at 8:30 am.

Together, they contributed more than 50 community service hours and collected more than 1,600 pounds of trash and garbage. Volunteers pulled a rusting children’s bicycle, car engine, engine cover, metal racks, and other debris from the river, the watershed and the surrounding hiking trail.

Trash collected at Whippany River cleanup in Morristown, May 1, 2021. Photo courtesy of WRWRAC.

Bottle caps and cigarette butts were everywhere.  Morristown employees hauled two truckloads of trash to the town’s recycling center.

Pastor Sidney Williams Jr. opened the event with a prayer. Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, mayoral primary challenger Esperanza Porras-Field, and Morris Township Committeewoman Cathy Wilson attended.

“The event wouldn’t be successful without the support of volunteers, organizers and government working together. The volunteers did some heavy lifting,” said Deeb, a former Morristown councilwoman and a member of the watershed committee since 2009.

“It was fantastic to see so many volunteers from so many different towns in the Whippany River Watershed. We couldn’t have the clean up last year due to COVID, so an awful lot of trash and litter have built up in the Watershed. Without volunteers, we would not be able to keep the habitat as pristine as it needs to be,” she said.

Trash collected at Whippany River cleanup in Morristown, May 1, 2021. Photo courtesy of WRWRAC.

“We are also thankful for Pastor Williams of Bethel AME Church in educating us about environmental justice issues and the local area’s history,” said Siva Jonnada, the committee’s 2021 chair, representing Morris Township.

“The Whippany River Watershed has many areas that need to be maintained and we are looking at identifying future opportunities to help do so,” Jonnada said.

The committee’s mission is to preserve, protect and maintain the land and water resources of the Whippany River Watershed. It works with towns and municipalities in the watershed, and sponsors river cleanups and community outreach programs. Members are appointed by the governing body of each town along the waterway.

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