State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Hundreds of Volunteers Clean Watershed Pollution

by on April 25, 2015 5:11 PM

Just about everyone can agree that keeping the environment clean and free of litter is important, even necessary.

It's only a motivated few who act on that need, taking to the streets and streams to clean up Centre County.

ClearWater Conservancy held its annual Watershed Cleanup Day on Saturday, spending four hours at over 50 watershed sites. Approximately 400 volunteers gave up their Saturday morning to remove litter and ensure less pollution to water in State College and surrounding areas.

Jim Lanning was one of the volunteers picking up roadside trash. He retired to State College five years ago, after spending his entire life in Southern California, choosing Central Pennsylvania because of the region's environment. And now, he's working to keep that environment clean.

"Here in Centre County, you have an area that has been reclaimed and truly is like a paradise," Lanning says. "I came here not for the fishing but for the environment. I spent my life as a law enforcement officer and wanted to come somewhere that is very peaceful and very hospitable."

Lanning has always felt strongly about environmental work. On Saturday, he was part of a three-man team that helped clean up garbage that could cause waterway pollution. 

"These folks are out there giving up their own time. It’s not only a good thing to do, but with these people that are involved, it’s a fun thing to do," Lanning says. "It's like a festival."

From clothing to fishing line, and from lawn mowers to washing machines, the volunteers found just about every type of litter imaginable on Saturday. The event is in its 18th year and has previously disposed of 5.82 million pounds of illegally dumped trash.

"Ultimately, our goal would be that we no longer have to do this one day and people could take it into their own hands to dispose of their waste properly," says Lori Davis, water resources coordinator at ClearWater Conservancy. "It is unfortunate, but until that day comes we will continue to do it because it does provide a benefit to the environment."

Watersheds are areas where water naturally drains, and for many Central Pennsylvanians, drinking water comes from watersheds. Keeping these areas clean and pollution-free is important to protect both the environment itself and the people living in it.

Davis is amazed by the hundreds of volunteers who came out again this year to help. 

"It is astounding," she says. " Both the community turnout with our volunteers, and the support from businesses like heavy equipment operators, is amazing. The community support and backing for this event is just unbelievable."


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Zach Berger is the managing editor of He graduated from Penn State University in 2014 with a degree in print journalism. Zach enjoys writing about a variety of topics ranging from football to government, music, and everything in between.
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