Bugs, trash lure volunteers

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DIXFIELD – Aquatic insects and Mother Earth were respectively scrutinized and probed on Saturday morning along Webb River and at the Mexico Recreation Park by two different groups of Earth Day enthusiasts.

In Dixfield, Maine Stream Team Program coordinator Jeff Varricchione conducted the first of a two-day workshop on stream habitat and geomorphology surveying for seven outdoors-oriented adults at Ludden Memorial Library in Dixfield.

The adults then followed Varricchione to the Mexico side of Webb River near its confluence with the Androscoggin River to search for aquatic insects, which are indicators of a healthy environment and clean water.

Participant Patty Silvia of Rangeley said she and others were interested in the workshop, because, “We want to keep the rivers healthy.”

“And save them for the next generation,” added Varricchione, of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in Portland.

The class teaches people how to conduct stream surveys, which serve as a screening tool to help identify areas with possible high-value fisheries habitat. The surveys can also reveal where habitat and pollution problems might exist, for future follow-up work.

The second day of the workshop is to be field work at an undisclosed location on Webb River. Participants are to meet at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 20, at the Carthage Town Hall. For more information, contact Varricchione at 822-6317.

In the recreation park at the other end of Mexico, Rachel Child, 34, of Rumford, organized a group of children and adults to help the nonprofit group, Friends of Mexico Rec Park, clean up and beautify the Route 17 site.

Last year, Child and a group of children, including her best friend’s daughter, Kristin Young of Peru, spent hours on Earth Day cleaning up Rumford’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education Park and painting playground equipment.

Young, a shy 10-year-old, joined Child again this year for their third straight Earth Day together. Their first project was picking up trash along the Swift River.

“I like helping the Earth and picking up” litter, Young said, in between shovel-fulls of wood mulch that she dumped into a wheelbarrow to be spread around playground equipment.

“We’re just trying to get it out there a little bit, so people can be more active,” Child said of her Earth Day projects.

Child’s interest in Earth Day took root after she flew to India in 2004 to meet an Internet chat group friend and his family.

During her three-week stay at the home of Ishan Pradeep in Dehradun, she said she was appalled to see so much litter strewn about the countryside.

“It made me appreciate what we have here. We live in a very beautiful place,” Child said.

When she returned to Rumford, she proceeded to get the Pradeep family and Young involved in Earth Day clean-up projects.

“Now, Kristin counts down the days to Earth Day, and I talked to the family from India last night and reminded them about it,” Child said.

Employed at The Bethel Inn in Bethel, she got co-worker Priscilla Thurston to help out, and Joan Tourtelotte of Rumford, a Mountain Valley Middle School teacher in Mexico.

Tourtelotte brought three members of her community service group.

While Child and youths did mulch work, Tourtelotte and her crew repainted faded red, white and blue posts lining the park roadsides, and Thurston led excited, chattering children on a trash hunt through woods lining the park.

Along the steep banks of the Androscoggin River in Rumford, trash was gathered and bagged by other Earth Day volunteers.

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