CLARK, NJ – The Clark Reservoir received attention from a group of committed volunteers on Saturday, when the Clark Environmental Commission sponsored a clean-up day. More than two dozen citizens, spanning three generations, came out to bag up trash and debris along the waterway’s shoreline.

“The future is here,” Clark Councilman and liaison to the Environmental Commission Brian Toal said, nodding to the many youth helping out. “The parents are showing the kids the way to keep a clean Clark.”

Groups gathered behind the Gran Centurions and behind Bartell Park. They fanned out along the water’s edge collecting plastic bottles and bags, several tires, a metal storage shelf, chairs and even a surfboard.  

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Environmental commissioner Ellen Mulligan said approximately 60 50-gallon bags of trash were taken out in a three-hour timespan.

Volunteer Joe Seebode, who runs the Earth Day Rahway River clean-up effort in April, said single-serving liquor bottles were “the newest scourge.”  Toal said tennis balls were also a plentiful find.

The day was not without challenges, namely bees and poison ivy, but the volunteers were good-natured throughout.  

Amanda Silva, an eighth-grader at Kumpf Middle School was hard at work raking bottles in from the water. She initially came out to earn service hours for confirmation, but was having fun and said she would come back for future clean-up efforts.

“Now she understands,” her dad, Martin Silva said. “When you try to explain this, you can’t comprehend it. Now that she’s here she understands how nasty it is.”

Seebode said the area behind Gran Centurions, near the Garden State Parkway bridge, was one of the worst along the reservoir.  Debris floated in a solid mass, trapped among the vegetation. “You can almost walk across it,” he said.

“It’s a long stretch that constricts at the Parkway,” he said, pointing across the length of reservoir. “The wind blows the stuff in and the river pushes it into the shoreline.”

Several volunteers ventured out in a boat to reach debris that was inaccessible from the shoreline.

Mulligan extended the commission’s thanks to Shoprite, Vaccaro’s Bakery and Pompeii Pizzeria for their donations of food and beverages for the volunteers.  RF Electric supplied collection buckets.

It had been several years since the last clean-up, Mulligan said, but the commission plans to make it an annual event.

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