If you care about clean water and a clean community, Valley Pride Day Community Litter Clean Up has become the statement event for folks here in the valley and those from away who cherish the valley. It is the one time of the year where all the communities in the Saco Valley watershed, which includes the Ossipee River watershed, come together, and clear the litter before we are visited by many for the summer.

Valley Pride Day was started 21 years ago when Donna Woodward and a group of concerned citizens decided to take action to clean up the unsightly litter that accumulated along the roadways and rivers in the valley. The response was greater than Donna could imagine. Businesses in the valley donated funds. Towns in the valley collected the trash. Individuals of all ages came out to make a statement that we had pride in where we lived.

The combined willingness of every town to do the right thing for our environment has made Valley Pride Day an award-winning event that is recognized throughout New England.

Last year, 2020, saw several changes to Valley Pride Day. The actual event was canceled so as not to be a super-spreader event for the COVID-19 virus. In spite of the COVID threat, several community members went out and collected the litter from “their” piece of town.

Cleanups continued throughout the summer and fall. It was needed as the valley and surrounding towns were inundated with folks. This served to increase litter in even the most unlikely of places. The area would not look as fine as it does without these unheralded folks who care for our environment year round.

In addition, 2020 was the final year with Donna Woodward leading the event. Without her tireless efforts, Valley Pride Day would only be a shadow of which it has become. Woodward was always gracious but never let a small word like “no” or “maybe next year” deter her efforts to make Valley Pride Day become the event it is.

As happens so often here in the Valley, a new team has stepped up to take over the work of Valley Pride Day. Ron Mellady and Rosemary Webb of Madison will be spearheading the event as it heads into its 21st season. Mellady is a longtime member of Saco Valley Trout Unlimited and will lead the efforts of Trout Unlimited to preserve, protect, and reconnect the cold water resources in the Saco River Watershed.

By incorporating, Valley Pride with the environmental leadership of Trout Unlimited, the event will only continue to grow and have more influence in the Valley. It is a great partnership as the valley continues to face unprecedented use and development. The Saco River leads that growth. As the health of the river goes so goes the future of the valley.

By joining forces with Trout Unlimited, funds donated to Valley Pride Day not used for that specific day, will be used as matching funds on grants to help with river protection and restoration.

Sometimes funds can be tripled and quadrupled by matching grants. All volunteer hours used count toward these grant matches. It truly is a win-win situation for citizens of the Valley and the Saco River.

Circle May 8 for this year’s Valley Pride Day. It is the best way to give back to your fellow citizens and the environment in which we live.

Tip of the Week

Wish to be a financial sponsor of Valley Pride? Stop at the North Country Angler for a donation form or email rmellady1@yahoo.com.

Steve Angers, a native to the Conway area, is the author of the book “Fly Fishing New Hampshire’s Secret Waters” and operates the North Country Angler.

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