Black River waterworks park

Volunteers give more than time

Imagine paddling down the Black River, a river that provides drinking water to the City of Watertown and Fort Drum, and discovering fishing line ensnared along the bushes—the very place where Great Blue Herons come to fish and river otter live.

Emily and Jen with trash collected in a poolNow imagine fishing on the River and finding plastic bags, a kiddie swimming pool, and bottles polluting the shores, making it hazardous for people and wildlife alike.

Well, that’s now a distant memory for six miles of the Black River from Forestport to Dexter, where 431 pounds of plastic, construction material, cigarette butts, and household debris were extracted from its shores as part of a community cleanup hosted in partnership with the Lewis County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Tug Hill Commission, and the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust.

The cleanup was part of a national effort to increase the health of local waterways and, ultimately, the ocean habitats into which they run.

The river cleanup was one of many volunteer projects throughout the year. Folks also pitched in to help develop and maintain the Tug Hill Traverse Trail and the trails at the Land Trust’s Joseph Blake Wildlife Sanctuary, led community programs, answered questions at events, and hosted local gatherings to celebrate conservation.

“I love to volunteer, out on the land, whether it’s helping with trails or taking photographs for the Land Trust, because together we are making a difference,” explained Zach Wakeman. We agree.

It’s people like Zach who share their passion for Tug Hill by volunteering their time and talents who make Tug Hill
a better place to live, work, and play.

We’d love to hear from you…

If you’d like to volunteer and join a growing team of people who have fun while making a difference, please call Lin Gibbs at 315-779-2239 or email her at We’d love to see you.