The Buffalo Sabres Green Team was back in action last weekend as it helped the Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER clean up the winter's debris from the shorelines of the Buffalo and Niagara waterways on Saturday.
“We have been doing our Spring Shoreline Sweep for at least 20 years, and it’s a part of the International Coastal Cleanup, so there are people throughout the Great Lakes and across the globe who are cleaning up waterfronts this weekend and in the month of April,” said Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER’s Executive Director Julie Barrett-O’Neill. “It’s really important in Western New York because after all the snow melts and being indoors all the time, we typically find a lot of debris, waste, trash and gross things on the water front, which prevents people from enjoying it and it harms wildlife. This is the time of year where we get a lot of migration from birds, so getting these things off the water and shoreline is important.”
The Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER was able to recruit more than 1,600 volunteers to help pick up trash in over 40 shoreline “clean-up sites” throughout Erie and Niagara counties. Some of the companies and organizations that contributed to the cleanup were the Buffalo Sabres Green Team, HandsOn Greater Buffalo and National Fuel.
"As an energy company, it is our priority to provide our customers with safe and reliable service," National Fuel spokesperson Karen L. Merkel said. "As a company that is ingrained within the communities where our employees live and work, it is our privilege to play an active role, and Green Team events allow us hands-on involvement. The spring clean-up provides volunteers with a reason to get outside after a long winter and do something that is good for them and good for the environment at the same time."
The Buffalo Sabres Green Team helped the organization clean up the Ohio Street D.E.C. Boat Launch, removing debris, waste, garbage and other hazardous material present on the shoreline. The Green Team recruited over 100 Sabres fans to participate in the event, which was just enough people to clean up the area.
As a token of appreciation, the Buffalo Sabres and the Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER invited all the volunteers to the American Legion Post on Amherst Street for a free picnic after the clean-up. Refreshments and hotdogs were served at the site while the volunteers got to meet the Sabres beloved mascot, Sabretooth.
“[The Buffalo Sabres Green Team] helped us raise attention for the event certainly. I think by promoting it through the Green Team and generating the amount of volunteers and adding excitement that the community is standing behind them right now by showing their consistent commitment to being a part of the waterfront community and being part of the environmental cleanup has been fantastic,” said Barrett-O’Neill.
Although the event was able to draw an overwhelming amount of volunteers, there was one aspect of the event that the organization couldn’t control, and that was Mother Nature. Saturday was a very cold and rainy day, which made it a wet and muddy outdoor event. Despite the miserable weather, the volunteers were still happy to help out at the cleanup sites.
“We’ve had years when we have had 80 degree weather, and other days where we had 30 degree weather, and there has been an amount of dedicated Buffalonians who come out and take care of the waterfront no matter what the circumstance was,” recalled Barrett-O’Neill. “As evident by the number of people at just the Ohio Street site, we can see people are doing the best they can under the circumstances, and regardless there will be a facelift on the waterfront to improve it.”
The Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on the preservation and restoration of the Buffalo and Niagara River watersheds. The organization partners with community organizations, government, business representatives and preservationists in an attempt to improve primary water sources.
“[The Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER] provide an important service to our community because the water impacts everybody,” said Sabres Manager of Community Development Rich Jureller. “They’re sort of the caretakers of it, and we created some additional visibility by partnering up with them, and they were so kind to include us in their great event. It’s a great partnership, and ultimately the community benefits.”
The Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER and the Buffalo Sabres Green Team were very appreciative of everyone’s help and support during the event and encourage everyone to look into their future events.