Paddle Pushers Clean Up Allegheny Riverbanks as Part of National
Valley News Dispatch
29 September 2012
By Jodi Weigand
A metal shopping cart, eight tires, a couple of boat batteries and
a deflated water trampoline helped tip the scales to more than
30,000 pounds that Paddle Without Pollution volunteers have
cleaned up this year.
“It’s a lot of stuff you wouldn’t expect,” said Grace Ison, 11, of
Oakmont, who helped during a Saturday cleanup along the Allegheny
River in Harmar. “Some of the stuff people threw away without
thinking; it felt good to pick it up.”
A group of 24 volunteers spent more than four hours collecting
trash from 3½ miles of riverbanks and Allegheny Islands
State Park. The effort was part of National Public Lands Day, a
national effort to clean up recreation trails and sites.
The group went out in kayaks and loaded what they could into the
small paddle boats. The bigger debris went into a canoe.
Melissa and David Rohm, both 44, of Scott, founded Paddle Without
Pollution last September. They’d been picking up trash
unofficially during boating trips over the past dozen years, but
were prompted to get organized after a trip on the Monongahela
“We paddled the Mon last year and were just shocked with how much
stuff was there,” said David Rohm. “It was like a Third World
They travel to any body of water from creeks to oceans. They’ve
held cleanups at Cape May, the Susquehanna River and Lake Erie.
Last weekend, they hauled 1,800 pounds of tires and garbage from
the Allegheny River and Bull Creek in Tarentum.
It’s bittersweet, but “we always get more than we expect,” said
On shore Saturday, volunteers from Bishop Canevin High School in
Oakwood sorted through the debris so that the group can track what
is most commonly found among every 300 pounds of trash.
Among the more predictable debris were cigarette packs, plastic
and glass bottles, kids toys and lost sandals.
“I think it’s just stuff you bring to the water,” said Ellen
Urbanek, of Green Tree, the high school’s secretary. “It’s not as
though it’s industrial or people were dumping.”
But people certainly should be more considerate, said science
teacher Peggy Evans of Regent Square.
“You think it’s something you learn in kindergarten: Throw your
stuff away in the right place,” she said.
Paddle Without Pollution’s core initiatives are pollution
prevention and education programs and summer and after-school
programs for inner city youth to teach paddling skills and help
them connect with and appreciate nature.
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be
reached at 724-226-4702 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writer Liz
Hayes contributed to this report. She can be reached at
724-226-4680 or email@example.com.