Blogs > Docket > Wallkill River polluted by tires: Volunteers remove 83 in a day, find 230 more in a 2-mile stretch

Wallkill River polluted by tires: Volunteers remove 83 in a day, find 230 more in a 2-mile stretch


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The Wallkill River Watershed Alliance held its annual “tire pull” on Saturday, July 14, and once again it was an enormous effort. I was lucky enough to join the Alliance for this year’s tire pull and joined a determined group of volunteers to wrestle, yank, dig, and lift dozens of tires out of the Wallkill River.

How many tires, you ask?  

EIGHTY-THREE FREAKING TIRES. Together we hauled these tires out of a 1-mile stretch of the Wallkill River in Middletown. The Alliance slogan is “We fight dirty,” and that’s what we did.

We waded through the river guiding a flat bottom boat, three kayaks, and three canoes, pilling them high with tires. The tires were visible beneath the surface, often lodged in mud lodged in the mud, and ranging in size from standard car tires to truck tires, with and without rims.

Unbelievably, we counted another 230+ tires over a second mile which couldn’t fit in the boats. During the second mile, the boats were at capacity, but we continuously tripped over the tires visibility littering the bottom. In total, 313 tires were counted in a two-mile stretch of the Wallkill River.

Before the cleanup, the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance shared this is the second annual tire removal project in this section, and in 2017 hauled out 90+ tires. This year Alliance members noted that appeared to be many more tires in this stretch, and at a higher density than other points in the river. This was a shocking detail to learn, and prompted the question: what caused the tire pollution to get worse in the last year?

It’s not clear what’s behind all this. To get to the bottom of the dumping, the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance has submitted a report to DEC.

The tire pull was organized by the Wallkill River Boat Brigades, which aims to raise community awareness of issues impacting the Wallkill River.  

“We’re focused on safe recreational use of the river and helping fellow nature enthusiasts discover the wonderful resource that is the Wallkill River. We’re highly concerned about nutrient loads, chemical pollution, and garbage in the waterway.

While we need a great deal of support regarding the first two items of concern, we can take direct action to remove tires, plastic and other garbage choking our waterways.” said Archie Morris, Wallkill River Watershed Alliance.

Riverkeeper is proud to have joined in for the tire pull, and to have the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance as a partner. The Wallkill River Watershed Alliance works diligently to sample, cleanup, and advocate.

To join a future volunteer event with the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance, e-mail [email protected]. For cleanups along the Hudson River or other tributaries, e-mail [email protected]. Click here to support the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance.



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