Baldwinsville Baker High School students got down and dirty recently to help clean up.
Organized by the Baker Environmental Club, an Onondaga County Earth Day cleanup was held Saturday, April 21. From 9 a.m. to noon, 28 student volunteers cleaned up the area in and around Tannery Creek, which is adjacent to the school’s main campus.
“I was really impressed with the students' fortitude,” said Mark Penhollow, a Baker High School teacher and advisor to the Environmental Club. “It was a cold, rainy morning and everyone worked their hearts out.”
For the past four years, Penhollow and his volunteers have removed trash from the area. With some extra effort, they were able to pull out a giant tire this year.
“That tire has been in the creek for years but it was half buried and too big a task to get it out,” Penhollow said. “This year I had a student who was willing to get soaked and filthy and able to help me lift it over the six foot bank to get it out. It wasn't pleasant but we got it out.”
Other items collected included several tires, a television set, an old broken toilet, an oil drum, hundreds of pounds of miscellaneous pipes and scrap metal, bathroom tiles and part of an old foosball table.
“I don't know the history of this spot, but it looks like there may have been a home there once and was clearly used as some sort of garbage dump at one time,” Penhollow said. “Some things we couldn't get out because trees had grown up and around them.”
Penhollow’s overall goal is to get that section of the creek restored. In addition to the annual cleanup, his classes have raised and released 150 brook trout into the creek and have conducted seasonal monitoring of the creek’s water quality (a program called Project Watershed).
“Our monitoring has shown clear improvement in water quality and the types of organisms found there,” he said.