Cleaning Up ‘The Hutch’

[Here’s the article by George Goss for which members of HRRP recently sat for an  interview. It appears in the latest edition  of Science and the City, published by NY City News Service.]

Cleaning Up ‘The Hutch’

STREAMLINED: The Hutchinson River, as seen from Pascap Scrapyard. Photo Credit: George Goss
STREAMLINED: The Hutchinson River, as seen from Pascap Scrapyard. Photo Credit: George Goss

BRONX – Part of the Hutchinson River near Mount Vernon recently earned the distinction of being the most fecal-contaminated of 52 sites of waterway tested in the Long Island Sound watershed by Save the Sound. The Hutchinson River Restoration Project, an environmental group advocating for a cleaner river, said that public access for kayakers and canoeists is necessary to end the pollution.

“Basically, we are interested in and hoping that someday ‘the Hutch’ will be something that people can use. You know, right now it is not accessible,” said Eleanor Rae, president of the Hutchinson River Restoration Project. “Public access is key.” Continue reading

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Paddling the Hutch: Ned P. Rauch takes the plunge

[The following article, written by LoHud / Journal News environmental reporter Ned P. Rauch, appeared in the May 7, 2014 edition of the Journal News. Mr. Rauch has granted permission to HRRP to repost the article to our website.]

Hutchinson River paddle reveals river’s challenges

Credit curiosity.

That’s what led my wife and me to wake up before dawn, tie our canoe to the roof of our car, drive down to Pelham Bay Park and carry a canoe across Shore Road, behind a bus stop, along an unmarked footpath and through the woods to a small, rocky beach on Eastchester Bay.

From there, 77 minutes past sunrise and about an hour after high tide, we shoved off toward the mouth of the Hutchinson River. Our destination, that of every great explorer: As far as we could go.

For Magellan, that turned out to be most of the way around the world. In our case, it was just beyond the Sandford Boulevard overpass in Mount Vernon, where we ran aground, ate a sandwich and turned around.

The lower third of the Hutchinson River, our route, is, among other things, a polluted, industrial waterway with little public access. But it has its champions.

(Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)

In an attempt to learn more about the namesake of the Hutchinson River Parkway, a reporter and his wife paddle their canoe up the Hutch from the Bronx to Mount Vernon. Video by Ned P. Rauch. Music by Ned P. Rauch and Liz Rauch. [Click here to watch the video:

http://www.lohud.com/videos/news/local/westchester/2014/05/07/8803601/]

Pelham Manor has a long-term plan to create a walkable greenway along its portion of the eastern bank. Mount Vernon has commissioned a study to explore potential uses for its riverfront territory.

Farther south, from her home on City Island, Eleanor Rae has been leading the Hutchinson River Restoration Project.

“Our goal is a clean, beautiful river that honors its namesake,” said Rae, an 80-year-old with a doctorate in theology. “That’s the ultimate goal.”

Rich in history

The Hutchinson River is about eight miles long and named not after the parkway that runs beside it, but for Anne Hutchinson, an early settler and religious pioneer. It surfaces from an underground spring near the New Rochelle and Scarsdale border, follows a viaduct beneath Jane Cammarata’s backyard and then re-emerges in a narrow culvert behind the homes on Forest Lane.

“You get more wildlife, for sure, when you have a river in your backyard,” Cammarata said.

From Scarsdale, the river flows south, feeding a series of reservoirs that long ago stopped supplying the region’s drinking water. One former reservoir, known variously as Lake Isle and Lake Innisfree, is bordered by townhouses and a collection of co-op units. Residents swim and boat on the lake, essentially bathing in and playing on the Hutch.

The river’s lower portion is navigable for about three miles, from Eastchester Bay into Mount Vernon. It took us about an hour and a half to travel up it, avoiding barges, irking geese and gawking at the scale of industry — car-crushers, cement plants, oil tanks — still quite active along the river’s banks.

We threaded a gantlet of contrasts. Co-Op City’s towers loomed on one side, an egret waded among the reeds on the other. Farther north, a backhoe picked through a pile of scrap metal while, in the woods on the opposite bank, a makeshift tent billowed in the wind.

Construction workers at the base of a bridge waved as we passed. A man sleeping beneath the ramp connecting the Hutchinson River Parkway to Sandford Boulevard raised his head and said hello as we glided by.

When we rested beside the athletic fields between Pelham and Mount Vernon, a man in the midst of a morning power-walk stopped and said, “That’s the first time I’ve seen this. I’ve been here eight years. I saw you and said, ‘You all don’t look like geese to me.’ ”

Dismal marks

The Hutch is a dirty river. Sewage still occasionally pours into it through CSOs, or combined sewer overflows. The state Department of Environmental Conservation says the river’s ability to support aquatic life and activities such as bathing and boating are “impaired” or “stressed.” The Bronx River earns similarly dismal marks.

It remains busy with industry. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports that 739,000 tons of cargo move through the river every year. By the corps’ count, 39 storage tanks hold nearly a quarter-million barrels of oil on the river’s banks. It was last dredged in 1989, though industry has been clamoring ever since to have the channel deepened.

Not surprisingly, oil, grease and other industrial waste pollute the river. Its popularity isn’t helped when, during heavy rainstorms, it jumps its banks and floods the parkway, as it did May 1.

Still, people care about it.

“We think it’s an asset for our community,” Pelham Manor Village Manager John Pierpont said. “It’s a workaday river, but we think it has the potential for being more than that.”

He said the village is working with commercial and industrial property owners on the river to create a path that would trace the Hutch to the athletic fields.

Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis said he envisions riverside restaurants and parks.

Eleanor Rae and the Hutchinson River Restoration Project continue their work, leading cleanups of the river and its banks; pleading with local governments to devote resources toward improving its health; advocating for increased public access. When she has time, she cruises the river and Eastchester Bay in her skiff, the Anne Hutchinson, whose life inspired Rae’s interest in the river.

At the end of April, accompanied by a pack of teens and other members of the organization, Rae helped yank invasive plants from the river’s banks in Pelham.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is now developing plans to reduce the amount of stormwater and sewage spilling into its waterways, including the Hutch.

On our paddle, my wife and I spotted egrets, geese, red-winged blackbirds, cormorants and countless gulls. At times the air smelled of seawater, other times of heating oil.

As we passed beneath Sandford Boulevard, the cement underside of the span close enough for me to run my hand along, our boat got stuck on a submerged, broken toilet. A moment later, we were standing on a sandbar, surrounded by lush vegetation, accompanied by the hum of traffic on the parkway and the officious honk of a lone goose wading upstream.

We climbed into our boat and let the current and the outgoing tide carry us back down to the Bronx, the Hutch’s waters sparkling in the morning sun.

Hutchinson River facts:

  • Length: About 8 miles
  • Spans: Scarsdale to New York City
  • Pollution: Classified as “impaired” or “stressed”
  • Industrial: 739,000 tons of cargo moves through the lower part of the river every year

Continue reading

2015 Cleanup Results: Reports and Inventories

wp cleanup pic 2015The annual HRRP Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary Shoreline Cleanup is not only a fun and rewarding event for the people who participate (thanks again to all who did this year) but it also serves an important purpose in documenting the efforts and progress being made in restoring our waterways  by monitoring and tracking the debris and trash we collect. HRRP works in conjunction with the American Littoral Society and the Ocean Conservancy — just two of the many environmental groups advocating for our waterways — in organizing these cleanups. Part of that job is submitting surveys to both groups, with a record of the number of people who attended, and the amount and types of debris we’ve collected. The finished surveys are shown below and can also be found on our website: www.hutchinsonriverrestorationproject.org.

Here are some of the highlights (a complete breakdown of the items collected can be seen on the report):

  • Number of people who participated this year: 51 adults / 16 children
  • Number of trash bags filled: 82
  • Distance covered: 2.5 miles
  • Most unusual item(s) collected: 2 swimming pools

One participant found a fully intact horseshoe crab shell:

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If you’d like more information, would like to volunteer with HRRP, or would like to subscribe to our email list, contact us at hutchinsonriver@gmail.com.


American Littoral Society NYS Beach Cleanup Report
(click image to enlarge) 2015_als_report


Ocean Conservancy Ocean Trash Data Form
(click images to enlarge)

2015_OC _report_1 2015_OC _report_2

Pics from our 6th Annual Cleanup

The weather was perfect this past Sunday for our HRRP 6th Annual Shoreline Cleanup. The event was very well attended, with more participation by local youth groups than ever before, and coverage by the local press. A video crew was there to record the event for a documentary / promotional video.

Below are some of the pics from the day. If you participated in the cleanup and took your own pics, please feel free to post them to our Facebook page –  www.facebook.com/HutchinsonRRP – or email them to hutchinsonriver@gmail.com, and we’ll upload them to our website. Be sure to include your name so we can give credit where due.

Thank to everyone who came out. Hope to see you again next year.

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Join us for our annual Hutchinson River cleanup, Sept. 20, 2015. See flyer for details.

2015 HRRP cleanup 2015 HRRP cleanup

Our Water Quality Monitoring Results for July

Water Quality Monitoring Results for July for the LI Sound from Greenwich CT to Pelham NY.

Green Cities Blue Waters

Our staff and volunteers have tested 51 sites in Westchester County and Greenwich for water-borne bacteria. Here’s what they found.

View original post 734 more words

Gallery

More pics from Jane’s Walk

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Here are some more photos from our 2015 Jane’s Walk: Photos courtesy of Gilbert Siegel, Inge Otto. Click on images to enlarge.

Gallery

Pics from the 2015 HRRP Jane’s Walk

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our 2015  Jane’s Walk on May 2nd. Hope you’ll join us again next year. And don’t forget our Annual shoreline clean up this September. Let us keep you up-to-date about our activities and events … Continue reading

Reminder: The HRRP Jane’s Walk is tomorrow!

Join us tomorrow, Saturday, May 2nd as we hike to the summit of the Pelham landfill for a spectacular view of the Hutchinson River and then make our way back down and over to the assembly area and launch site for our annual Clean-Up.

You’ll learn about the river, the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary, Anne Hutchinson (for whom the river is named), and the work of HRRP in bringing attention to this long neglected natural resource and our efforts to restore it to health.

Visit our Jane’s Walk 2015 page for more information and to register. Participation is free of charge and open to all.

Join Our HRRP Jane’s Walk on May 2nd

Jane’s Walk’s are a series of walking tours that were started in 2007 to honor the memory and work of author and community activist, Jane Jacobs, the woman who (along with the Greenwich Village community she organized), took on Robert Moses in his bid to push an expressway through their community and won. The walks are scheduled for the first weekend in May to coincide with Jacobs’ birthday. They are free and open to everyone.

The organizers of Jane’s Walk have invited HRRP to organize our own walk, which we have scheduled for May 2nd from 2 – 4 pm. The walk will include a hike up the Pelham Bay Park land fill where we can view the Hutchinson River and learn what is being done to make the river accessible and clean. After descent from the land fill, those who wish to continue will cross the bridge over the Hutchinson River and walk down the trail to where the canoes are launched for our annual fall cleanup of the Pell Wildlife Sanctuary, which is located on the river. The walk will begin at the Southwest corner of the Pelham landfill located on Pelham Parkway East just before the Hutchinson River drawbridge (directions below). The site is easily accessible from Pelham Parkway, The Hutchinson River Parkway, and I-95. Parking is available.

Registration is required for this walk but is limited to 40 participants. You may register for the walk on this website. Just visit our “Jane’s Walk 2015” page and fill out the form.

Jane's Walk Map

DIRECTIONS:
By Public Transportation:
Subway: #6 Pelham Bay Line to Pelham Bay Park (last stop)
Bus: BX5, 8, 12, 23, 24, 29, Q50, #45 Bee Line to Pelham Bay Park #6 station
Cross over Bruckner Expwy. to Pelham Bay Park and follow road Northeast passed Bronx Victory Memorial to land fill entrance just before traffic light.

By Car:
Pelham Parkway East: passed I-95 overpass and entrance ramp to I-95 North, first right just before traffic light into land fill parking lot.
Hutchinson River Parkway North: Exit 3E, continue on service road to Pelham Parkway East, passed I-95 overpass and entrance ramp to I-95 North, first right just before traffic light into land fill parking lot.
Hutchinson River Parkway South: Exit 3E on to Pelham Parkway East, passed I-95 overpass and entrance ramp to I-95 North, first right just before traffic light into land fill parking lot.
I-95 North (Bruckner Expwy.): Stay to the right and take City Island/Orchard Beach exit, follow road Northeast passed Bronx Victory Memorial to land fill entrance.
I-95 South: Exit 8B on to Pelham Parkway East, passed I-95 overpass and entrance ramp to I-95 North, first right just before traffic light into land fill parking lot.