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Mount Vernon Teens Help Volunteers Clean Up Bronx Wildlife Sanctuary

Volunteers prepare to clean up the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary in September in the Bronx.
Volunteers prepare to clean up the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary in September in the Bronx. Photo Credit: Contributed

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. -- Volunteers battled the environment, weather, and tides recently to help clean up the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary in the Bronx.

The sanctuary, a swampy area devoid of trails in Pelham Bay Park, is only accessible from the east bank of the Hutchinson River, so the hardy volunteers had to paddle themselves and their equipment over in canoes and other boats.

They also had to wait until late September when the nesting cycle of creatures there ends to tackle the project.

Helping clean up the bottles, plastic, tires, and other debris were six teens from the Mount Vernon Keystone Club.

The sanctuary, which is bordered by saltwater wetlands and oak and hickory forests, is home to raccoons, egrets, hawks and the occasional ibis or coyote.

Since its creation in 1967, and many years before, the sanctuary has been the victim of construction waste and run-off from Co-op City and river "floatables" from sites north, volunteers said.

Organized by John Rapaport of Component Assembly Inc., the Mount Vernon teens spent hours putting trash in bags, which were then removed by boat to be processed on the shore.

After a hard day’s work and a crash course in rowing on the Hutchinson River, the youngsters were treated to a meal at a local restaurant, organizers said.

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