Sean Kirst: For Earth Day, cleaning up parks polluted with pandemic-related


Marcus Rosten

Marcus Rosten is almost hidden by trees and shadow as he tries to grab some trash along the Scajaquada Creek trail in Buffalo.

In a pandemic, almost 118 years after his death, his parks were there for Buffalo.

There was, however, one unfortunate side effect: A pileup of litter. Typically, Larkin said, the conservancy has 2,000 volunteers in the parks for projects throughout the year, including organized spring cleanups that are of giant benefit to the staff – but those events were essentially impossible a year ago.

She said there will be a series of targeted and scheduled volunteer efforts over the next week, and she urged anyone looking for ways to help throughout the year to contact Zach Garland, the conservancy’s volunteer coordinator, by using As for Garland, he spoke of the difference made by advocates like Bruce Weymouth, a retired librarian who – unable to volunteer in Buffalo’s libraries once the pandemic began – wondered if he could help in the parks.

What he now does, in a low-profile and painstaking way, is work Garland describes as an important volunteer commitment: Weymouth quietly weeds and removes invasive species. As a volunteer, Weymouth has met park regulars he now knows by face, if not by name, and it makes him feel less like a visitor to Olmsted’s parks and maybe, well, more like a part of what they are.

Marcus Rosten

An unfortunate byproduct of the pandemic: some trash along the Scajaquada Creek trail, near McKinley Vocational High School.

It is the same way Rosten hopes his students will feel about their city. His official title at McKinley is teacher, but he sees his role there as more of what he describes as a guide or interpreter. He grew up in a small apartment in a crowded section of Cheektowaga, where – in a mysterious fashion that he cannot fully explain – he learned to love the nature he found within reach of his arms.

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