An initiative that began in 2013 as “Just 2 Eagle Scouts” to clean up sections of the Raritan River throughout Somerset County has turned into a full blown charitable venture that is focused on preserving the environment in and around the river.

In summer 2013, the Somerset County Park Commission Rangers provided a support system for a group of scouts, students and adult volunteers who chose to participate in the American Rivers National River Cleanup. According to a release from the county, that is a nationwide community-based initiative designed to clean up rivers and streams, and raise public awareness about the need for healthy rivers.

The South Branch and Raritan River Cleanup was led by Just 2 Eagle Scouts, which was working to clean a 10-mile stretch of the river from Neshanic Station to Raritan Borough.

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That effort, the release said, led to the removal of 507 tires and other unwanted items from the river.

The most recent removal was done on May 12, and resulted in the elimination of 900 tires from the river from two dump locations in and along the bank of the Raritan River, behind the Torpey Athletic Complex in Bridgewater.

Because of those efforts, the Somerset County Park Commission and Central Jersey Stream Team were given a Clean Water Award from NJ Clean Communities.

“The Central Jersey Stream was excited to assist the Somerset County Park Commission and NJ Clean Communities in removing hundreds of tires from in the river along the Finderne Farms dumpsite,” said Joseph David, president of the Central Jersey Stream Team, in the release. “The site is something that we’ve hoped to work on for some time and we were honored by the invitation to be part of this great project.”

The Central Jersey Stream Team is a grassroots nonprofit organization that is dedicated to restoring the Central Jersey waterways and surrounding land.