Earth Day — a chance to give back

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

MAUDE MEEKER, of Naples, and Bryanna Plummer, of Bridgton, apply some muscle to trail maintenance work on Monday. The Lake Region High School students participated in an “Alternative Spring Break” — improving the trail prior to additional trash removal activities scheduled in Bridgton for Earth Day. (De Busk Photo)

Now a naturalist for Lakes Environmental Association (LEA), Mary Jewett recalls cleaning up the trash in Stevens Brook with her elementary school class.

“I remember pulling huge pieces of metal out of the brook that were from the mill days. It was a mission for our class to find the most metal rods to pull out. We actually had to stop because there were too many,” she said of her experience as a sixth grader.

In spring 2012, Jewett brims with excitement that as an LEA employee, she will be among the groups of people hosting the trash cleanup day to celebrate Earth Day.

“What we are doing on Earth Day is cleaning up point source pollution. That’s the stuff you can point to like beer cans, coffee cups and even the lawn chair someone spotted in Stevens Brook,” she said.

The “Earth Day in Bridgton” activities will begin at 1:30 p.m. this Sunday, April 22, with participants meeting at the Bridgton Community Center, according to one organizer, Ken Murphy. Area residents should come prepared: Wear hip boots or waterproof shoes, and bring rakes and shovels, he said.

People can assist by cleaning up Main and Depot Streets as well as the waterways of Pondicherry Park. The trash pick-up will continue until 5 p.m., when everyone gathers at the community center for a free meal prepared by Executive Director Carmen Lone, Murphy said.

Numerous activities and games are planned at the center, especially for those children too small to spend the afternoon hauling trash out of Stevens Brook.

“This is the fourth year in a row that we have been doing this. We have got a lot of people coming aboard to help us out,” Murphy said.

All month, Jewett has been in the planning stages for the upcoming cleanup.

“Every time I walk along Stevens Brook, I am making mental notes of what to clean up when there is a crew around,” she said. “When there is trash on the ground, people will think no one cares and throw trash there. When something is pristine, if they would be the first one to throw that beer can or that cigarette butt there, they may think twice about it. In Bridgton, we deal with our small part and make our public places look beautiful. Every day is Earth Day, and I really believe that.”

If you cannot come out on Sunday, go out by yourself on Saturday or Monday — if you can, Jewett said.

AS PART OF A WEEKLONG PROGRAM called an “Alternative Spring Break,: several Lake Region High School students did maintenance work on the Pondicherry Park trail system. (From left to right) Mason Kluge-Edwards, a junior from Casco, Monica Couvillion, a senior from Sebago, and Aaron McDaniel, a junior from Naples, spent Monday improving the Bridgton-based trail. (De Busk Photo)

Meanwhile, on Monday, a group of local high school students did Pondicherry Park trail maintenance work. Ten juniors and seniors, who attend Lake Region High School, took part in a program called an “Alternative Spring Break.” By late afternoon, the group had raked leaves from the trail, used loppers to remove branches, re-constructed a ditch and fixed a boardwalk that was damaged by a fallen tree.

The teenagers had plenty of reasons for other people to get out and clean up Bridgton’s green spaces.

“It is awesome to look at the finished product, and know we did it,” said Emma Walker, a junior from Naples.

Another junior, Jared Curtis of Casco, said the best part was “having a good time outdoors with friends.”

Fellow classmates agreed.

Mason Kluge-Edwards, a junior who resides in Casco, commented on how strong he felt after doing the outdoor labor.

“And, it’s good we can help other people,” he said.

Naples resident Maude Meeker, a junior at LRHS, said both the laborious trail maintenance and the motive behind doing the work mattered most to her.

“It is nice to be working in our community and giving back,” Meeker said.

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