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The Yankee Express

Zap the Blackstone movement to mark a 50th anniversary

Pictured are participants in an invasive water chestnut pull workshop: John Marshland, Bill Luther, John O’Brien, Kevin Burns, Josh Pontbriant and Presenter Katie DeGoosh.

Nearly fifty years have passed since 10,000 volunteers gathered along the banks of the Blackstone River to remove tons of trash, including appliances, furniture and even cars and a school bus.

 The Blackstone River today, much cleaner than in the past but still with challenges. 

A 50th-anniversary Zap the Blackstone cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, August 27th.

Thus began, in September of 1972, an initiative called “Zap the Blackstone.”
Today, although many challenges still remain in the effort to “Bring Back the Blackstone,” the waterway is much cleaner than it was half a century ago. It is also a focal point for many of the activities taking place in the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.
Bonnie Combs, Molly Cardoza and others in the Corridor office are understandably proud of all of the happenings that are calling overdue attention to the region’s prized national park. Recently, for instance, the Corridor issued a call for help in growing its “pollinator gardens;” asking, “do you have a green thumb? Want to volunteer for gardening projects?”
Individuals interested in helping out in this capacity should email Ms. Cardoza at [email protected].
There is also an opportunity to take “the pollinator pledge” by going to
Also contact Ms. Cardoza if you want to become a volunteer. New people were met when the Corridor sponsored a table at the Worcester Tercentennial Festival last month, and Corridor representatives then invited them to a New Volunteer Open House at the Blackstone River Valley Heritage Center in Worcester.

Re-enactment of Zap clean-up scheduled
Meanwhile, to mark the anniversary of the Zap the Blackstone movement, a re-enactment of the 1972 clean-up will be held on Saturday, August 27th. The goal of organizers of the twenty seven-town watershed-wide cleanup in Massachusetts and Rhode Island is to have 10,000 volunteers again involved. It is being billed as “the biggest clean-up/green-up revival in fifty years.”
And the beat goes on.

Butterfly Festival is August 13th
The Corridor just announced the 15th annual Barbara J. Walker Butterfly Festival, which is scheduled for Saturday, August 13th from noon to 4:00 p.m. at the Mass Audubon Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Area at 414 Massasoit Road in Worcester. “Where butterflies roam free in their natural habitats.”
Activities as part of the Butterfly Festival will include naturist-led walks, workshops, a display of live caterpillars, children’s activities, garden tours, a plant sale and more. Anyone arriving in costume may win a prize.
  On Wednesday, August 3rd, a Volunteer Appreciation Ice Cream Social will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at West End Creamery, 481 Purgatory Road, Whitinsville. This is scheduled as a tribute to “volunteers-in-parks.”
  Call 401-651-6316 for further details.

Battling the invasive water chestnut
The Corridor recently issued a thank you to Kate DeGoosh, environmental analyst for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, who presented a skills workshop on the invasive water chestnut just days before the volunteer water chestnut pull hosted by the Blackstone River Watershed Council and the Friends of the Blackstone River. Eight cubic yards were pulled over two days.