The environmental commissions from Verona and Cedar Grove organized a very successful cleanup of the West Essex Rail Trail on Sunday. Local public works departments and Essex County Parks provided trucks, tools and supplies and send several employees to help. The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission donated trash bags and work gloves.
Every day people enjoy this linear park that connects the Hilltop Reservation with Mills Reservation and Sunday was spring cleaning by about 70 volunteers. In addition to adults and students for Montclair State University and NJIT, the local youth bicycle team helped out and before long, trucks were hauling away six full loads of trash from years of accumulation. Car tires, metal fencing and pipes, cinder blocks, lawn chairs, metal drums, cardboard, bottles, cans, broken glass, car batteries, school bus seats and even a refrigerator were removed from the woods.
The West Essex Rail Trail crosses a trestle over the Peckman River. NJWAP Watershed Ambassador Carolyn Rubinfeld gave a guided tour to the river after the cleanup, focused on the trail’s history, the Peckman River and its tie to the Passaic River, pollution, and why this cleanup is so critical.
The trail still has areas where large items need to be dragged out of the woods and there’s likely a few more cans and bottles hiding under leaves, but today marked an important turning point. Public Works and Essex County Parks are planning to go back during regular business hours to collect six more piles of garbage that volunteers collected today and other items too large to move by hand, such as a stone roller.
Trail users are encouraged to lend a hand with the ongoing cleanup by carrying a shopping bag to collect any items missed by the spring cleaning.
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