Tire Free Youghiogheny

Mountain Watershed Association hosted their 2nd Annual Yough River Cleanup & Tiresweep on Saturday, September 12th. The combination of low water and nice weather provided volunteers with great conditions on the Yough. 

We want to thank all the volunteers who participated and shared photos from their day. Other cleanups have taken place this summer as well by private groups, so a big thanks to you too. We will be hosting more cleanups in 2021. May 22, 2021 is our next schedule cleanup. This way, the Yough will be ready for the thousands of paddlers next summer. Keeping the river clean is a never ending battle.  

Volunteers smile with their trash haul. Photo credit: Alicia Martin

Consumers and producers will need to share the blame. Efforts to minimize excess waste in the waterways does not lie solely in the hands of the consumer. There are many instances when industry supporters actively lobby state and local governments to establish bans on “banning” plastic bags! These are preemptive attempts to protect the petrochemical industry from environmental push back, citizen voices, and meaning regulations to keep our waterways clean.  

We successfully added the Connellsville to Dawson Section of the Yough to the cleanup. This section has similar fishing and paddling usage compared to the Yough near West Newton. However, one major difference was noticed, the number of tires present in the river. 

Nearly 300 tires were removed between Cedar Creek Park and West Newton, just 15 from the upstream section. From September of last year until now, more than 1000 tires have been removed from the Youghiogheny, specifically from the West Newton area. Why so many tires? Plastic rafts and floats are increasingly becoming a problem. Not to mention the never-ending flow of trash into our waterways.  

Getting outside and enjoying the natural world is great, but comes with some responsibility. Check out some resources by Leave No Trace for some great ways to recreate responsibly. Many of Pennsylvania’s State Parks have seen more visitors this summer. We think this is great. Those experiences hopefully lead to a greater sense of connection to the environment. That sense of connection or stewardship may be all that’s needed to change the future. 

What will the Yough look like in the future? Will it be tire free? Will industrial zones creep their way upstream? We were able to discuss other facets of our work during the cleanup. Now, more members of the community know about the proposed Invenergy Power Plant on the Yough, about our Swimmable Waters Program, and that MWA/YRK is dedicated to a clean Youghiogheny River.  

Lastly, Thank you to Wilderness Voyageurs, Hazelbakers Canoe & Kayak, and Bloom Brew for your support. Looking forward to next year. 

Sign up to be a volunteer! More help is always appreciated!