Tiny Heller Creek on Elmira’s Northside is cleaner, flowing easier and the ducks, beavers and fish that live there are happier thanks to a trash and brush cleanup on Saturday.
Nearly 20 volunteers helped remove 400 pounds of trash and litter from the creek, cut down more than 1,000 pounds of overgrown brush and other vegetation.
Volunteers and staff from Chemung River Friends and employees of Southern Tier Custom Fabricators – located adjacent to the creek – spent two hours cleaning the creek that flows into nearby Eldridge Lake that is stocked with trout for youth and public fishing tournaments.
“The volunteers struggled through oozing boot-sucking mud, ankle-grabbing vegetation and thick brush to get to the trash and litter that had polluted the creek for ten years or more.” said Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. “They sweated and struggled to drag and lift cut brush and sawed trees. They did it with smiles, jokes and a sense of accomplishment. They helped Mother Nature with her spring cleaning.”
The litter included plastic bottles and bags, lottery tickets, food wrappers and containers, a TV set, tires, a wooden chair, metal pipes, metal grates, cinderblocks and wood scraps.
The creek starts in a pond on Vanderhoff Road, west of the Elmira Correctional Facility clubhouse. It runs under Hoffman Street and the Woodlawn Cemetery before it resurfaces near College Avenue and empties into Eldridge Lake. It’s named after the Heller family that owned much of the land where the creek starts and farmed it in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
“A creek or river cleanup has long-lasting positive effects on our clean water and the habitats for plants and wildlife,” Pfiffer said. “Unfortunately, there will always be people who will litter and pollute. Our goal is to try and keep up with them. We did just that on Saturday.”
Article and photos courtesy of Chemung River Friends