Friday, April 20, 2018

Boston Marathon Aftermath, 4/20/18, Fisk Pond, Natick

The photographs below were taken to raise awareness of the problem of pollution of wild areas caused by drinking cups, energy gel wrappers, hand warmers, gloves worn by those handing out drinks, and similar items remaining on the ground after the Boston Marathon. The photos, unless otherwise noted, were taken on April 20, 2018 along the route of the Boston Marathon at Fisk Pond in Natick. That was the Friday following the Monday on which the marathon was run. There were also smaller amounts of trash along nearby wild areas which I did not post photos of: Middlesex Path, the pond in front of Roche Brothers supermarket, and the pond directly across Rt. 135 from Roche Brothers.

On the day of the marathon, April 16, 2018, I took this video showing trash along the side of the road:

The cleanup crews carted away the vast majority of the trash but it is probably not realistic to expect them to get every last scrap. The result is a lot of pollution left by the side of the pond and an unknown amount that may have been blown by the wind or washed by the rain into the pond. I reported a similar problem in 2016

Racers running past the pond may not realize how much wildlife lives at the pond. I've taken photos and videos at Fisk Pond over several years and I've seen a wide diversity of wildlife at the pond including amphibians (frogs), reptiles (turtles), mammals (beavers and muskrats), insects, snails, songbirds, waterfowl (including night-herons and green-herons) and raptors (including osprey). Many of these animals live there year round and some species of migratory waterfowl (such as wood ducks) breed there.

You can see many of these animals at Fisk Pond elsewhere on this blog:

The animals can't call the town to complain about their home being polluted. They don't benefit from the tourism industry. I would like to think that people responsible for the marathon, the runners, and government officials could find a solution to this problem if they were aware of it.

I don't think the runners or the race organizers want to pollute the area, they probably expect the towns will clean up after the race. And as I said, I'm sure the cleanup crews carted away a huge amount of trash but it is not realistic to think they can get every scrap. Also, they can't clean up the trash that the wind blows into the water. There is also a drainage ditch and other gullies that wash trash into the pond if it rains during the race, as it did this year. (It is also a problem if trash is left in the area after the cleanup because the next time it rains trash can wash into the pond.) For all theses reason, if this problem is going to dealt with, the solution has to involve some changes made by the race organizers. I can think of a few suggestions:

  • Don't hand out drinks near ponds and other wildlife habitats.
  • Let the runners know that as a practical matter, the cleanup crew is not going to pick up every single energy gel wrapper etc. and anything they throw on the ground can be blown by the wind or washed by the rain into ponds etc. so they should keep their small trash items until they can dispose of them properly.
  • Set up "No littering zones" near ponds, designated by signs (with cute baby animals pictured on them), where runners know they should not throw trash on the ground.

Under normal circumstance littering is punished with a fine. I am not suggesting any type of enforceable deterrent measures be taken because I think the problem is most likely due to ignorance not maliciousness.

The photos below, unless otherwise noted, were taken on April 20, the Friday after the marathon, showing Fisk Pond and some of the trash remaining along the side of the pond after the cleanup after the marathon:

The next picture taken on the day of the race shows someone handing out drinks wearing blue gloves like those in the previous picture.

The next three photos show a drainage ditch where trash can wash into the pond.