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The Yankee Express

‘Zap 50’ may be even bigger cleanup than the original

Self-guided paddling is a perfect way for the novice or expert to explore the Blackstone River.

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.
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.
In anticipation of a 50th-anniversary reenactment of the original cleanup, Raymond Kelley, whose grandfather was part of the initial effort, is making an appearance at Blackstone Valley Historical Society on August 14th to help kick off “Zap 50.”
Mr. Kelley’s hope is that this year’s watershed-wide cleanup in Massachusetts and Rhode Island will be an even more massive undertaking than its celebrated predecessor.
Personnel 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.

Bikeway, paddling are staples of river activity
The Blackstone River Bikeway and self-guided paddling are just two of the recreational opportunities available to residents looking to experience the National Heritage Corridor up close and personal.
The Blackstone River Bikeway can be accessed on bike or on foot. Twenty-four miles of the path are constructed. It will eventually run forty-eight miles from downtown Worcester to India Point Park in Providence, and connected there with the existing East Bay Bike Path and continued to Bristol, Rhode Island for an additional 14.5 miles.
Self-guided paddling is available to both the novice and the expert. Paddlers will be pleasantly surprised as they move through quiet, teeming marshes, challenging narrows and unsual flows. At least two hundred species of birds can be seen along the river, which drops 450 feet over 46 miles. Among the birds living in the watershed are sixteen types of waterfowl.

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.
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.

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.