Monday, June 6, 2011

Assabet River - Hudson Mill Pond to Berlin

On this idyllic morning in June, the upper Assabet River was calling me westward from my usual haunts.  Perhaps, in the back of my mind, I was thinking about possibly running into two women from Ohio, Christa and Nancy, who are paddling from Newburyport on the Merrimack River to Northborough on the Assabet.  I'm not sure whether or not their journey is finished or still in progress.  One thing I am sure of is that they had adequate water to make it at least as far as the Solomon Pond Mall. 
I launched my boat at the Mill Pond in downtown Hudson and headed upriver.  After passing under the first bridge (pedestrian), I encountered the splendid view at upper left.  A little ways before the same bridge, I encountered this family of Canada geese enjoying some time in the shade...
Amazing how fast the goslings grow!

The view upriver after passing under Chapin Rd. didn't disappoint...
Just before reaching a very noisy Route 495 there are the remains of some kind of dam-like structure.  A paddler heading upstream has 4 locations where passage is possible or may elect to portage.  I went to the farthest left opening and walked my boat through by pulling it behind me.  Soon the noise of the highway faded behind me and after passing under some power lines, I came upon some busy musquashes...

By this point the river is getting progressively shallower and narrower with a carpet of juniper like plants for a bottom.

Other wildlife seen today were red-winged blackbirds, eastern kingbirds, a belted kingfisher, a mother wood duck with ducklings, and painted turtles.

After passing over a stone fordway I reached the Bridge Rd. overpass in Berlin, where shallow water stopped my progress last October.  Today, however, I was able to paddle another mile to this blowdown near the Dingley Conservation area behind the Solomon Pond Mall...
I could see marks indicating someone had portaged around this blowdown recently.  Perhaps it was Christa and Nancy nearing the end of their journey?
For me it was my turnaround point and I began the easy trip back to Hudson going with the flow.
This stretch of the Assabet was beautiful and virtually trash free.  Nearly all of today's trash haul of 37 was found in the area of the mill pond/launch site.
Back at the takeout, the gang drank in a little sun before hopping in the trunk of my car...
The breakdown: 16 recyclable containers (8 redeemable) and 21 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, styrofoam cups, and two 5-gallon pails.  Nice to see somebody sealed their driveway but how could they let the empty pails end up in the river?
My YTD total stands at 2994.


Harry said...

Are you by chance keeping a tally of the breakdown between redeemable & non-redeemable recyclables overall? There's a growing buzz all over (even with some friends in Australia) that putting a value on glass/plastic will help keep it out of the environment. It seems to make sense, just wondered if you've got hard numbers on it?

Al said...

Harry, I started categorizing trash into 3 types at the beginning of 2009.
The categories are: recyclable containers that aren't redeemable, recyclable containers that are redeemable, and miscellaneous rubbish.

Out of the 15,000 pieces of trash recovered since that point the breakdown by percentage is as follows:
Recyclable containers that aren't redeemable = 30%;
Recyclable containers that are redeemable = 16%;
Miscellaneous rubbish = 54%

As I have gone along, I've discovered that many containers which were redeemable when manufactured are no longer redeemable due to having been altered or having lost their identifying wrapper. These containers now go into the recyclable but not redeemable category. Thus my redeemable counts have been decreasing over time.

When gathering this data I was struck by how consistent the 2011 figures are for the two rivers I most often patrol.
Since 1/1/2011, 16 patrols on the Sudbury and Assabet Rivers have netted the following:
Recyclable containers that aren't redeemable:
Sudbury = 35%, Assabet = 34%

Recyclable containers that are redeemable:
Sudbury = 10%, Assabet = 9%

Miscellaneous rubbish:
Sudbury = 55%, Assabet = 57%

(Total trash counts were 590 for the Sudbury and 613 for the Assabet)

I believe these recent figures are the most accurate in reflecting what percentage of containers are actually redeemable verus those that are not.

How do my numbers compare with what you've been finding?

Harry said...

First, wow. You've pulled out 15,000 pieces of trash by yourself, that's amazing, and appreciated!

Second, that's very interesting that the nonredeemables are coming out at twice the rate of the redeemables, and that the rates are so consistent. It certainly seems that when we put a value on something, it's littered less. I wish the large corps didn't fight bottle bills so vehemently, and I wish the legislatures didn't side with the large corps so much. Perhaps they need to take a ride down the Sudbury & Assabet Rivers with you?

Sadly, I haven't been comparing redeemables to non yet on my beach. The number of intact bottles left behind at all is low. Most of the food plastics I find are cups, forks/spoons, bottle caps, wrappers. But just from observing the number of folks who roam the streets looking for redeemables throughout Maine, it's clear that putting a value on them is keeping them out of gutters and parks, etc.

Thanks again, really glad I found your blog.