CHESHIRE -- The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail looks a little cleaner thanks to volunteers’ work on Saturday.
A team of 20 local residents were joined by Gov. Deval Patrick to help beautify Farnam’s Crossing on Farnams Road. The local event adjacent to the Cheshire Reservoir was in conjunction with the eighth annual statewide Park Serve Day.
For Bill Barry and his daughter, Catherine, of Pittsfield, it was a day to give back to a well-used recreational opportunity. Both worked as a team to rake up debris and then bag it to be taken away for composting.
"I use the trail almost every day -- during the winter and everything," he said.
Becky Barnes, field operation team leader with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, said it’s the fifth year M. Edward Jewelers of Pittsfield has served as a co-sponsor.
"It’s really important to us. We’ve always been environmentally conscious," Kathleen Flynn-Kasuba, who owns the business with her husband, Mark Kasuba, said.
Their business was closed Saturday so that employees can help participate in Park Serve Day, she said.
John Yuill, of the Berkshire Bike Path Council, recognized Barnes for her efforts on forming partnerships and rallying volunteers.
"[The path] gets used a lot. And not only on the weekends, but the weekdays," he added. "Early morning you see retired people out here. By 9 a.m., you see mothers pushing baby carriages."
Patrick greeted volunteers individually before helping to rake debris, plant flowers and lay down mulch. The annual event, which started under his administration, readies parks and beaches for the summer season, he said.
"Our ability to keep up with them is entirely on citizens’ understanding that these are your parks, your facilities," he said.
The statewide event included 42 sites under DCR’s jurisdiction and thousands of participants. Other sites in the DCR west region were Beartown State Forest in Monterey and the Daughters of the American Revolution State Forest in Goshen.
Rick Sullivan, secretary for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, spoke of economic impact of state parks. The ninth largest state park system in the country, it is one of the biggest parts of the state’s economy, he said.
"All of these volunteers make it a lot easier to get things up and running," DCR Commissioner Jack Murray said.
"When you look at why people live in the state, they will talk about the quality of life in Massachusetts or their community," Sullivan said. "When you ask them to define that, they will almost always put open space and recreation opportunities at the top of that list."
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