Westfield River Waterfront Cleanup

Heather Wyman, Conservation Committee
Westfield River
Keeping the waterfront clear of trash provides residents with a safe place to enjoy a summer day. This family removes discarded debris from the area each time they visit. Photo: Heather Wyman.
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The Westfield River is a high priority, biodiversity conservation area in southern New England and one of the healthiest tributaries of the Connecticut River. Its watershed includes both urban and rural communities and supports scenic, historic, and natural resources while providing a myriad of opportunities for outdoor recreation (WRWA, 2024).

Looking to get involved? Check out WRWA's upcoming cleanup events and help us protect and preserve the Westfield River.

Looking to get involved? Check out WRWA's upcoming cleanup events and help us protect and preserve the Westfield River.

In recent years, the Western MA Chapter's Conservation Committee has collaborated with the Westfield River Watershed Association (WRWA) in their twice-yearly waterfront cleanup events. Led by AMC's Heather Wyman (a WRWA board member), we coordinate cleanup efforts in the area of the West Springfield levee in West Springfield, MA (see map). This levee is one of the largest systems in New England, helping to protect parts of western Massachusetts from flooding, while the surrounding area provides local families with a quiet place to enjoy the river.
Throughout the year, trash accumulates in and between the homeless encampments that line the riverbank, and along the makeshift trails that residents use to access the river. Since 2020, we have removed over two tons of material from this area. This serves to protect native species, improve passageways for fish and wildlife, and preserve natural habitats, while making the area safer for families to visit. Today there is notably less trash on the trails.

Environmental Justice

The cleanup area is located in an Environmental Justice Neighborhood. These neighborhoods are often overlooked for environmental improvements. Environmental Justice Neighborhoods are defined by the following criteria:
  • The annual median household income is 65 percent or less of the statewide annual median household income,
  • People who have been or are marginalized or underrepresented make up 40 percent or more of the population, and/or
  • Twenty five percent or more of households identify as speaking English as a second language.
Environmental justice is an important part of the struggle to improve and maintain a clean and healthful environment, especially for communities of color who have been forced, due to segregation and redlining policies, to live, work, and play closest to sources of pollution (NRDC, 2024). Everyone, regardless of race, color, national origin or income is entitled to equal protection from environmental harms and risks (USEPA, 2024).
NRDC, 2024. The Environmental Justice Movement, accessed on 14-Mar-2024.
USEPA, 2024. Environmental Justice in Your Community, accessed on 14-Mar-2024.
WRWA, 2024. About Us, accessed on 14-Mar-2024.
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