Dive Volunteers in Pittsfield, MA Pull 14 Bags of Trash from Lake Onota
One of the best things about living in The Berkshires is the number of green spaces we get to enjoy, from stunning mountains to sparkling lakes, we've got it all.
Residents in Pittsfield, Massachusetts enjoy the luxury of two beautiful lakes. Both Pontoosuc Lake and Lake Onota are used year-round by locals and visitors alike. With a city population of 42,000, 126,000 people countywide, and 2.6 million tourists visiting the Berkshires annually, the two bodies of water see their fair share of traffic.
Keeping the shores clean falls on the city. Pittsfield's Open Space and Natural Resource Program Manager Jim McGrath says his crew is the best around, applauding the small contingency of parks department employees who are tasked with a tremendous amount of work. An equal amount of the responsibility to keep the lakes clean falls on the shoulders of its citizens. Personal responsibility needs to be taken, but unfortunately, we know sometimes people fall short.
The last key to maintaining beautiful, clean lakes are amazing groups of volunteers. Cue the scuba divers of Action Sports and Travel.
The downtown Pittsfield business was founded by Jo and Jerry Smith who dove into SCUBA retail in 1976 in Arizona. In 1981 they returned home to the Berkshires and the business came with them. Originally called Aquatic Adventures, the store's first location was on Melville Street in Pittsfield, before moving to North St under its current name. In 2014 ownership was transferred to Jo and Jerry's daughter, Laurie Rock.
In the mid-1980s the couple started leading lake clean-up efforts and in the 1990s started working closely with McGrath, focusing many of those efforts on Lake Onota. The choice to pay extra attention to Onota was a conscious one because it's in their own backyard, is the training ground for the courses they teach and they believe it's important to be part of the maintenance of that area.
According to General Manager of AST SCUBA, Amanda Bowers, lake and beach cleanups are commonly organized in the dive industry. "It gives our divers an excuse to get in the water and make a positive impact in the communities they live, work, and play in. Most of our volunteers are recreational divers, but any event we organize is led by a dive professional associated with the store."
Last week a team of volunteer divers from Action Sports and Travel hauled 14 bags of trash out of Lake Onota, which is in addition to the seven they pulled out the previous week. The 14 bags were pulled by a team of four amazing volunteer divers, Christina, Kristin, Patrick, and Justin, over the course of about four hours.
A huge thanks to these folks for keeping our local Berkshire County lakes clean, and remainder to us all to do our best to help keep these amazing natural resources clean.