LIVINGSTON, NJ — In conjunction with the Essex County Environmental Center, The AmeriCorps NJ Water Shed Ambassador and REI co-op, the Livingston Trails and Greenways Committee (T&G) recently held its first Passaic River Cleanup at the proposed Okner Fields Canoe-Kayak Storage and Launch facility.

The crew cleaned up the proposed launch and storage area, cleared snags on the river and picked up bottles, plastic containers, plastic shopping bags, tennis balls, a basketball and even an aluminum bat that was caught in the vegetation along and in the river. Using kayaks and canoes, the group worked from the proposed launch site south to the Route 10 bridge.

According to T&G, however, more work needs to be done heading north toward the Essex County Environmental Center launch site in Roseland.

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"We found gilled snails—macroinvertebrates that are pollution sensitive—on the submerged tree limbs, which indicates that the river is less polluted than everyone thinks," said Erin Dempsey, AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassador, as she cleared snags from the river along with T&G chair Richard Cornell.

According to Cornell, T&G member Debbie Weinstein arranged for REI co-op to bring kayaks and a pop-up tent at no charge for the cleanup crew to use. T&G is currently in discussion with REI co-op about providing rental kayaks at the Okner Fields site.

T&G and the cleanup crew welcomed help from Mayor Al Anthony and thanked him for his support of this initiative.

T&G also thanked Eagle Scout candidate Sebastian Bonardi and his adviser, David Alexander, Senior Naturalist at the Essex County Environmental Center, for preparing and installing the kiosk at the proposed launch and storage site entrance.

The committee is currently working to confirm dates for additional river cleanups as well as kayaking and canoeing outings from or to the site. Once the dates for cleanups and outings are announced, registration will be available through the township’s Community Pass. The outings will be geared toward beginners as well as more advanced kayakers and canoers.

The Passaic River is the western border of Livingston and is a crucial part of the township’s water supply. T&G hopes anyone who enjoys nature and wants to help preserve it as well as have fun to join in these events.