One man's dedication to cleaning up litter along the river offers example of how to make a difference in 2022
Every time Doug Fessler goes fishing on the Susquehanna River near Sunbury, he first takes time to clean up any litter he finds along the banks.
“I always leave a device to pick up litter, a garbage bag and gloves in my car, and each time my son and I go fishing, I make sure to clean up the banks first,” he said. “When you do that, and then catch a fish, there’s a deeper meaning to it. It’s almost like the river is rewarding you. There is a different sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with it versus just going down catching a fish and walking away.”
Fessler has pulled countless bags of trash from the river’s edge over the past year as more and more people turn to our natural resources for refuge from the pandemic and their hectic lifestyles.
Fessler’s efforts earned him recent recognition as one of The Daily Item newspaper’s 2021 People Who Made a Difference.
Beyond the well-deserved accolades, Fessler’s story provides an important example of how anyone really can make a difference in our greater watershed. Beyond changes made at home, families can adopt stretches of the river or any of its tributaries – even cleaning up smaller streams, runs and creeks make a huge difference in litter that makes its way to the river.
While cleaning up your own adopted stretch of waterway, please be mindful of safety.
“Wear thick gloves and boots – you never know what you may bump into or pick up while snagging trash,” said Fessler. If you find bottles with liquids inside, “assume you don’t know what it is and assume that it is the worst thing possible. When possible, leave the liquid in the container and don’t mess with it or let it splash onto you.”
It is also important to be wary of the water conditions and proactively prepare for ticks. If you come across any weapons or drug paraphernalia, do not handle them but instead immediately report it to local authorities. For additional safety considerations, check out this video created by the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association.
If you and your family take on this challenge, we'd love to hear how it goes while sharing your images and story to help inspire others to also get involved. Contact Riverkeeper John Zaktansky via email at email@example.com
John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.