5th annual Hutchinson River Cleanup

Volunteers at a previous Hutchinson River Cleanup at the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary in Pelham Bay Park.
Photo courtesy of Hutchinson River Restoration Project

A local group is calling for volunteers to help clean up some Bronx waters.

The Hutchinson River Restoration Project will host its 5th Annual Hutchinson River Clean up at the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary on Sunday, September 21.

The HRRP got its start from a City Island women’s group that was interested in Anne Hutchinson as a historical figure, said president Eleanor Rae, and the interest evolved into concerns about the Hutchinson River and its environmental issues. In 1999 the Department of Environmental Conservation listed the river as belonging to the most polluted category in the state, said Rae, and although some progress has been made in getting the city and state to clean up the river, there’s a lot of work to be done on the river.

“It’s still pretty polluted,” said Rae.

The group started informally meeting about 10 years ago, said Rae, officially formed a non-profit organization 8-years ago, and began holding the annual clean up five years ago. During the clean up, some volunteers will use canoes to reach sites within the sanctuary that are particularly concentrated with debris while others will clean up the shore on foot.

“It’s a hard working day but it’s also a fun experience,” said HRRP vice president Violet Smith. “It’s a very rewarding thing to know you’ve done you’re small part to clean up the river and help the environment.”

In the past, debris has included tires, parts of televisions, truck parts, and lots of fishing line, said HRRP co-founder Toby Liederman.

“It’s amazing to see the things volunteers collect,” said Liederman.

An additional part of the organization’s mission is to make people aware of the river, and that it’s an important part of the water system in the area, said Liederman. The river is shared by City Island, Co-op City, Mt. Vernon, Eastchester, New Rochelle, Pelham Bay Park, Pelham, Pelham Manor, and Scarsdale, she said, flowing down from Scarsdale for eight miles and emptying into Eastchester Bay at the southern tip of City Island.

The group is also advocating for making the river, which currently has no points of access, accessible to the public, said Rae. She said she feels if people were able to use the river, they would take more ownership of it and contribute to keeping it clean.

“It needs help,” said Rae.

On Sunday, September 21, volunteers will meet at the west corner of City Island Road in Pelham Bay Park, by the traffic light and bus stop, diagonally across from Pelham Bay Stable. Parking will be available free of charge for the clean up at Turtle Cove Golf Center, 1 City Island Road.

Volunteers can just show up, or can sign up by emailing HRRP president Eleanor Rae, Hutch‌inson‌RRP@a‌ol.com or by calling Violet Smith, vice president, 718-885-0978.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at jwill‌iams@‌cnglo‌cal.com.

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