Brook clean-up to offer more than just garbage bags

Warwick Beacon
Written by SMITH, KELLY
Thu, Mar 30 06

Saturday's 9th Annual Buckeye Brook Earth Day Clean-up will be a little different this year. Aside from the dozens of volunteers who will help clean the banks of the state's largest unsupported herring run, this year organizers have added a few extras to the event. According to Steve Insana, founder and vice president of the Buckeye Brook Coalition, as well as founder of the annual clean-up, the event will include arts and crafts vendors, new and used books, body and bath items, refreshments and more inside the Knights of Columbus Hall, making the annual event into a Buckeye Brook Heritage Day of sorts. Also, Insana has invited Doug Harris, senior deputy tribal historic preservation officer for the Narragansett Indian tribe to speak at an opening ceremony.

"The tribe has a long history of working toward preserving the brook," Harris said yesterday. "I'm honored to be a part of those people who wish to carry the work of protecting, cleaning up and preserving the brook. This is an ancient ceremonial place for the Narragansett people and I am looking forward to taking part in the event."

Insana also invited the tribe's drummers to end the ceremony by performing by the banks of the brook, out of sight from the rest of the participants, though as of yesterday he did not receive confirmation on whether they might attend.

"I invited the tribe and though I haven't heard back from the drummers yet if they are coming, we are hoping they'll show up," said Insana, who added the tribe has taken part in past Buckeye Brook events. "That would be so awesome if they could make it."

The clean-up, which Insana began on his own in 1998, aims to clear debris from the banks of the Buckeye Brook that, in spite of his efforts, continues to get worse each year.

"Most of the areas that are littered are the wooded areas, stream crossings and the back streets where not too many houses tend to be," said Insana, adding, "and it's getting worse, not better. There's a lot of work to be done still. We have to start in the schools by educating our kids."

Insana urged those who have considered taking part in the clean-up to make this the year they commit.

"I know a lot of people have wanted to come in the past but haven't put their foot forward to come do it," said Insana. "Why not let this be the year. This is our herring run and we have to take care of it. People need to wake up and realize we've got to do our part and not depend on city crews all the time. We live here, too."

Insana added that if you have an area near your house that's been littered and you join the clean-up on Saturday, he'll send some volunteers to that part the brook, too. Also, he urges those not interested or unable to help clean to at least attend the craft fair inside the K of C hall.

"I am really hoping for this to be a huge success so we can invite the vendors back again next year," said Insana. "It's meant to be a family event for everyone to enjoy."

Buckeye Brook runs from Warwick Pond south to Narragansett Bay at Mill Cove. The state's largest unsupported herring run, Buckeye Brook is the route home to hundreds of buckeyes and alewives each year as they return to Warwick Pond to spawn. In past years, Insana, first on his own and later with the help of the newly formed Buckeye Brook Coalition, has fought hard to protect and preserve what was once his boyhood playground. His efforts have included garnering local and state interest in the brook, having the Buckeye Brook Coalition named by the Rhode Rivers Council as a state designated watershed council, working with Save the Bay and the Conservation Law Foundation to force the Rhode Island Airport Corporation's hand to work at preventing glycol used in de-icing airplanes from leaking into the brook and setting up water quality testing and fish counts during the run in conjunction with URI. Most recently, the coalition was successful in getting the Department of Environmental Management to close off the herring run to all fishing.

"Our efforts have really paid off," he said, adding "I've seen it with my own eyes," referring to work RIAC has done to prevent glycol from entering the brook.

Members of the Buckeye Brook Coalition will also be present at this weekend's New England Salt Water Anglers Fishing Show at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

Editor's note: The 9th Annual Buckeye Brook Earth Day Clean-up will take place Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon from the Knights of Columbus Hall, 475 Sandy Lane. Those interested in volunteering for the clean-up should dress accordingly (lawn gloves, long pants and heavy shoes or boots are recommended). Trash bags will be supplied. For more information about the clean up or the brook, call Insana at 737-1342.