Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hope for an Updated Bottle Bill in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick is recommending changes to the state's Bottle Bill for the first time since it took effect back in January 1983. To see proposed changes click here
This change is long overdue and will finally give a monetary value to a large percentage of the single-use beverage containers that are purchased in Massachusetts and too often end up as worthless litter.
Opponents are calling it a tax but it really isn't. While it is true that folks will be required to pay an additional nickel, they will have three choices when the container is empty: Return it to the store and redeem the nickel; Place the container in their trash/recycle container and let the state have the nickel; carelessly discard the container into the environment and hopefully allow someone willing to recover it to get the nickel. Sounds like a win-win situation to me! Only improvement that I would suggest is that the deposit should be a dime to help offset the present-day costs to retailers and recycling facilities.
Before happily ripping the January page from the calender hanging on the wall of my cave, I note that there are only 48 days till the arrival of spring. Might the worst be over?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Concord River - Egg Rock to near Ball's Hill & Back

Hearing the weather forecast for artic conditions later this week, prompted me to squeeze in a paddle/trash patrol this afternoon, while conditions were relatively hospitable.
Just as last week, getting to open water proved a bit of a challenge. However, once that challenge was overcome, I found myself happily gliding along a glass smooth river through a New England winterscape. The scenery could be summed-up as ice (in numerous formations), snow covered ground, still some snow covered trees from Saturday's storm, cloudy skies, and air temperatures just above the freezing point. The theme of the day was "winter is tightening its icy grip" and like it or not, it may be time to retreat to the warmth of my cave till the 'January Thaw' arrives.
Heading downriver, I passed under the 'Old North Bridge' and noted not a soul in the area which, in my experience, is fairly unusual. Flint's Bridge or Monument Street is still closed to traffic, though no construction work was occurring. A little ways past this bridge, I encountered a lone common merganser. She was working her way upriver with an eye-catching motion of jutting her neck forward and back while paddling with her feet. Occasionally she would disappear beneath the river's surface in search of fish. Once she became aware of my presence, she flew a short distance away.
Continuing downriver, I saw a few cross-country skiers at Great Meadows and noted another in an orchard as I looked up towards Punkatasset Hill. Saw a pair of wood ducks just before passing Saw Mill Brook. After the abandoned cabin the river turns sharply to the southeast, past a well iced-in backwater, then northeast to round Ball's Hill. Before reaching Ball's Hill however, I encountered the end of open water. The river's steady current was being swallowed under the jagged ice and this became my turnaround point for this trip.
After a quick re-fueling, I began my trip back upriver. Aside from several grey squirrels and the aforementioned common merganser who was re-encountered near the North Bridge, I saw only two people enjoying the North Bridge area.
Reaching Egg Rock, I decided to see if the Assabet was open water through the 'Leaning Hemlocks'. It was and the hemlock's boughs were still cradling the recent snow. Would have been a nice photo had I remembered to bring a camera.
Turned around one more time and paddled around the tongue of ice sticking out from Egg Rock and headed to my takeout location. As a trash patrol, today was a bust! Any trash there may have been was locked in or under the near shore ice. My YTD total remains at 7.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Assabet River - Egg Rock to Nashoba Brook & Back

This afternoon I broke the ice quite literally on the 2009 trash paddling season and patrolled the lower Sudbury River and the Assabet River from Egg Rock to Nashoba Brook and back. The main channel of the river was open water but the shorelines are iced over for as much as 10 feet out from the shore in places. Getting to the open water was a little more challenging than usual.
On the way to Egg Rock, I recovered an empty Dunkin Dounuts Latte plastic container and that became the first piece of trash for the new year. It was followed by a nip bottle, 3 empty plastic bags, an empty Gatorade container and an empty cardboard box.
The scenery was very winterlike; snow, ice, bare trees and cloudy skies. However the air temperature was several degrees above freezing and there wasn't too much wind.
Wildlife observed were 3 hawks, and a mixed group of mallards, Canada geese, and Muscovite ducks.
Water levels are still high. Dodge Rock is submerged and Willow Island is awash. The mouth of Spencer Brook is frozen over but Nashoba Brook is open water and flowing at a pretty good clip.
After reaching the mouth of Nashoba Brook, I paddled upstream a short way and turned around after passing under the abandoned Old Colony Railroad bridge.
The trip back to my starting point was smooth and fast and I reached my takeout location with a lucky 7 pieces of trash bringing my YTD total to a lucky 7.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Some 2008 Reflections

While awaiting a more favorable day to begin the 2009 trash paddling season, I reflect back on 2008. In addition to the trash that made it into either dumpsters or recycling containers were the following tangible and not so tangible items:
This old wooden paddle found floating on the upper Concord River

These bottles and cans include a Coke bottle (50's);Budweiser can commemorating 2007 World Champion Red Sox: Parsons' Ammonia bottle; an unknown small bottle; a Virginia Dare soda bottle

Additional bottles include a LaChoy soy sauce bottle; a rugged but broken old bottle that bears an Indian chief's image and the slogan "It is different, we use a natural pure spring water" the Indians called it "The water of life", That is why they came here to drink"; an eight-sided Heinz ketchup bottle; a small bottle of Foss' Liquid Fruit Flavors; and a larger Virginia Dare bottle. Apparently Virginia Dare was referred to as "The First Lady of the Land" and her name showed up on different beverages. Virginia was the first child born of English parents in North America. She was born in 1587 into the Roanoke Colony of which no trace could be found in 1590. Sunsequently her rather Anglo-centric title.

The non-tangible included: numerous encounters with wildlife in which I was priviledged to come eye to eye with wild creatures in their element and witness their displays of prowess; a new appreciation of the very dynamic nature of the rivers which has resulted in my becoming more willing to be enveloped by the river's environment, slow down, and subsequently note the many small things that are in a state of continual change; and lastly, a good amount of exercise and a ton of fresh air!