Residents and members of the Highland Lake Watershed Association at the association's river cleanup on Saturday, April 24. Photo by Terry Platt.
Residents and members of the Highland Lake Watershed Association at the association's river cleanup on Saturday, April 24. Photo by Terry Platt.
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WINSTED — An estimated 25 residents participated in this year’s Highland Lake Watershed Association’s (HLWA) Spring Cleanup on Saturday, April 24. The volunteers met under sunny skies at Resha Beach early that morning and enjoyed free breakfast sandwiches, iced coffee, water, and juice before setting off with garbage bags and gloves to pick up trash along the many miles of roads surrounding Highland Lake.
The town’s Public Works Department assisted the HLWA by picking up the trash after it had been collected that morning. HWLA Board member Willie Platt and his wife Terry, who manages the HLWA website and serves as editor of their quarterly newsletter, greeted the volunteers, including many new lake residents, that morning. Later in the day, Willie Platt noted that no tires or large items were found during this year’s spring cleanup. The Platts have lived at Highland Lake since 1975.
The HWLA has been holding cleanups each spring and fall around the perimeter of the lake for more than 15 years, according to Terry Platt. The State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has awarded HLWA the Green Circle Award several times over the years for these biannual cleanups as well as several other environmental projects they’ve tackled.
The CT Green Circle Award was established in 1998 to recognize businesses, institutions, individuals, and civic organizations who have participated in energy conservation, transportation, pollution prevention, or recycling-related activities or projects that promote natural resource conservation or environmental awareness.
In addition to these biannual cleanups, HLWA has also initiated a “Legacy” program, accepting donations of open space land in the watershed and acting as a land trust, ensuring these properties will remain as open space in the future. Under this program, the HLWA is also raising money to purchase properties for the program. Willie Platt also serves as a Steward on the HLWA Legacy Committee as well as the Town Ad Hoc Water Level Committee and Energy Commission.
The HLWA’s newsletter also helps educate lake residents on how to care for and protect the watershed by adopting sound environmental practices.
The nonprofit organization, which is dedicated to the preservation and protection of Highland Lake and its watershed, also supports the town by helping in the activities surrounding the annual application of weed control products and the cleanup of the public beaches. For more information about the Highland Lake Watershed Association, go to www.hlwa.org.

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Jeannette Brodeur has been a journalist for more than 30 years and wrote a human interest column for the New Jersey Herald, the Naugatuck Daily News and the Citizen’s News for many years. She and her husband Todd have three adult children: Harley, Aaron and Jillian, as well as an aging rescue dog named Nelson and two rescue cats named Reeses (like the candy) and Clarence (like the angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life”). They live on Highland Lake in Winchester/Winsted.