When volunteers started cleaning around the historic Old Champlain Lock 4 in Waterford, organizer Terri Patton recalls using grappling hooks to pull tires out of the water.
After eight years of the annual Canal Clean Sweep, she said, the effort has changed. In addition to picking up litter that blows in, the annual weekend of work now entails cutting brush to make sure the scenic canal is visible from the nearby Canalway Trail.
“We’re kind of working our way down into town and cleaning as we go. It’s very nice; the longer we’ve been doing this, the less trash there is,” she said.
Patton and her crew of volunteers will launch a cleanup effort Saturday morning from the Waterford Museum — one of dozens of events taking place along the state canal system in honor of Earth Day.
Organized by the state Canal Corp., Parks & Trails NY and the state Environmental Facilities Corp., Canal Clean Sweep 2013 will draw volunteers to more than 100 different sites over the weekend — and more volunteers are welcome.
Kathy Fisher said members of local Boy Scout Troop 54 and Cub Scout Pack 54 are mainstays of the annual cleanup in the vicinity of Kiwanis Park off Route 5S in Rotterdam.
She said different volunteers bring different results. One year, students from the Schalmont Central School District foraged around in the woods and found tires and barrels, even a car door.
But like in Waterford, Fisher said the job becomes less complicated with each year’s progress.
“It definitely has been getting cleaner,” she said.
The bike path near Kiwanis Park alongside the Mohawk River makes for an easy job for parents with smaller kids, Fisher said. The springtime cleanup leads to a pleasant view — and a good example — for park users in the summertime, Fisher said.
“If the park is clean, people will be less likely to trash it,” she said.
Events are taking place throughout the weekend as far north as Hudson Falls and west almost to Buffalo.
The city of Amsterdam is also holding a spring cleanup Saturday based out of City Hall at 61 Church St. The citywide event, sponsored by radio station WCSS-AM, the city’s neighborhood associations and the office of the mayor, aims to gather 250 volunteers and fill 500 bags with litter.
People can learn more about local cleanup events taking place this weekend at www.ptny.org.