AVON – Wearing gloves and long pants, dozens of volunteers came to the canoe launch off Routes 5 and 20 in Avon Saturday to pick up and help clean up the area.

“Across the district all Rotary Clubs have been involved in cleaning up, specifically watershed projects. So they focused on the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes, rivers like here at the Genesee River, so there is an effort to cleanup the waterways as part of the watershed project cleanup,” said Kevin Van Allen, a Livingston County judge and Avon Rotary member who participated in Saturday’s cleanup.

As part of Earth Day and Earth Week celebrations, which took place last week, more than a dozen volunteers from the Avon Rotary Club spent Saturday picking up trash and working to make the area look a little better.

“It looks terrible and we want our town to look nice to people and it just ruins everything,” said Janise McMindes, one of the volunteers. “A lot of the stuff that we find is not recyclable and it just sits there.”

From a large rope hanging from the bridge over the river to beer cans, volunteers worked together and individually to pick up all sorts of debris.

“We have picked up mostly cans and bottles, some coffee cups, bags of Cheetos and obviously people are coming here to canoe or party and they are leaving all of their trash behind,” said volunteer Marcea Tetamore. “It makes me angry that people treat their home with such disrespect. It is important to clean it up and to take it back with you,”

Others, such as 10-year-old Molly Van Allen, said with so many accessible trash cans, she can’t understand why some people still litter.

“We have had a lot of trash around the Earth that needs to be picked up. I don’t know why people litter, when there is probably a trash can someplace to find,” she said. “I would never litter and I don’t litter because it is pretty easy to find garbage cans.”

From the fields to the waterways, volunteers walked with garbage bags and tools to help pick up the trash. It was an undertaking they hope will not only restore neighborhood pride but help to protect local wildlife.

“There are many things that people throw out, like the rings from a six pack is a perfect example. A duck or a beaver could get his head caught in it and end up dying,” said McMindes. “I think it is important that we keep all of those hazards cleaned up, so that we don’t kill any animals.”

Volunteers also said they hope the clean up encourages others to pick up after themselves.

“If you walk around you will see that there is significant trash that needs to be picked up,” said Kevin Van Allen. “People have not taken their stuff like they should have and it ends up polluting our waterways.”

Following their work at the Genesee River, volunteers went to the Tops Plaza in Avon to help pick up more garbage that had become an eyesore to some.

“We are doing it for earth day and just trying to help Mother Nature. You need to protect what it ours,” said Avon Rotary Club President Julie Carney.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Bob Stryker, district Manager for the Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District, was educating people about how to plant bare root seedlings.

“Bare root seedlings are typically three years old. They are grown in a local nursery and then now it is time to put them in a more permanent place,” explained Stryker, who gave his talk at the Little Lakes Community Center in Hemlock.

While only a handful of people came out to watch the demonstration, Stryker said he hopes his knowledge will go a long way to help educate people about proper planting techniques.

“You want to make sure the things that are important to a tree, which are its root system, are adequately introduced to the soil and so that they can take off and grow,” he said. “Trees are a great way to be outside and do something that you can enjoy for decades.”

In addition to being a pleasant outdoor activities that people of all ages can enjoy, planting and tending to trees also benefit the environment, said Stryker.

“We have only got one place where we live and we need to take care of it,” he said. “Education is an on gong lifelong process. We are one with the Earth, so we need to do our best to work in unison with it.”

Janise McMindes is carrying an empty bottle she found near the Genesee River in Avon. She hopes her efforts to clean up the area will not only make it look better but help to protect local local wildlife.

District Manager for Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District Bob Stryker was at the Little Lakes Community Center in Hemlock working on educate people on proper planting technique and helping to protect the earth.

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