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Riverkeeper Sweep Kicks Off Friday at Randall’s Island

John McEnroe pitches in for shoreline cleanup & wetland restoration in a preview of Saturday’s 4th annual day of service from NYC to Capital District

May 5, 2015
Contact: Cliff Weathers, [email protected], 914-478-4501, Ext. 239

OSSINING, N.Y. – Volunteers will kick off Riverkeeper Sweep 2015 this Friday by clearing trash and and removing invasive plants at Randall’s Island Park. Tennis legend and Riverkeeper Board Member John McEnroe, of the neighboring John McEnroe Tennis Academy, will be pitching in.

The media is invited to attend the Friday event, a preview of the 100-plus service projects taking place Saturday along the New York City shorelines and the Hudson River from NYC to the Capital District. The 4th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep will be the largest ever; it aims to improve the health of the waterways and promote stewardship over the shorelines.

“I am looking forward to bringing some of my players to Friday’s Sweep and rolling up my sleeves with the hundreds of other volunteers and making a real difference in the life of our great city,” McEnroe said.

“Randall’s Island is an inspiring example of what we can all do to make our shorelines cleaner and healthier,” said Dana Gulley, Riverkeeper’s Manager of Strategic Partnerships, Outreach and Volunteer Programs.

Wildlife habitat is re-emerging in the shadow of the Robert F. Kennedy (Triborough) Bridge, thanks to the management of 20 acres of restored natural areas. The island is home to 148 species of birds. Peregrine falcons nest above the saltwater marsh, and oysters, blue crab and mummichog inhabit the marsh itself.

On Friday, volunteers will clear invasive plants and litter from Little Hell Gate Saltwater Marsh, a rare, 5-acre habitat on the Harlem River; an urban forest (and former Christmas tree dump site) up the slope from the marsh, and the Little Hell Gate Freshwater Wetland, which helps filter stormwater runoff from the island’s playing fields.

“We like to think of these as ‘critical mass’ events,” said Christopher Girgenti, Natural Areas Manager at the Randall’s Island Park Alliance. “When we get an event like Riverkeeper Sweep, with 140 to 160 volunteers over two days, that’s a tremendous amount of work we get done.”

Friday’s event begins at 9 a.m. at the North Entrance to Icahn Stadium. Service projects begin at 9:30, and McEnroe’s team is scheduled to get started at 10:30. Riverkeeper and Randall’s Island Park staff members will give a presentation during lunch at Icahn Stadium from noon to 1 p.m.

In the first three years of the Sweep, volunteers removed more than 75 tons of trash, planted or maintained hundreds of shoreline trees, and performed other service projects to improve public access to the Hudson River and its tributaries. Schools, scout troops, businesses and community groups help organize the cleanups in partnership with Riverkeeper.

The Sweep is the signature New York event in the Waterkeeper Alliance SPLASH Series, presented by Toyota and designed to connect people to their waterways. Other sponsors include the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, Rocket Fuel, Ironshore, EILEEN FISHER, Paragon Sports, Sprout Watches, VOS Selections, JSA Financial, Orvis, the Johnny Mac Tennis Project, Pleasant Valley Stone and these individuals: Joe and Daryl Boren, and John and Gillett Gilbert.


Riverkeeper is a member-supported watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and its tributaries and protecting the drinking water supply of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents.

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