Saturday, April 17, 2010

Creek Cleanup

Braving the waters...sort'a
Last Saturday (April 17) I gathered with a group of about 125 like-minded volunteers to help clean up the banks of the creek that flows through the natural area that I visit most frequently. Actually, I joined a group that went upstream to a tributary that drains a heavily urbanized area and that, as a result, is always full of trash.

Our group scoured a gravel bar
Unfortunately, we weren't disappointed--there was plenty of trash to collect. We rolled six barrels out of the floodplain--including one that was full of water and stinking organic muck. On the bottom of the barrel were two yellow rubber gloves embedded in the goo--lord knows what that barrel contained! There were also lots of nursery planting containers, tennis balls, and ball point pens. And don't get me started on the amount of Styrofoam--enough with the Styrofoam, people!

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but this riparian area was very highly disturbed. With the exception of the canopy trees (e.g., silver maples [Acer saccharinum], box-elders [Acer negundo], and sycamores [Platanus occidentalis]), I don't think I saw a single native plant. The forest floor was covered by a carpet of lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) interrupted by the emerging stalks of Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) and huge clusters of multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora). Everything was draped and shrouded by porcelainberry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata). A botanical nightmare!

A gravestone? No dates, only the initials "JC."
We even came across what might have been a gravestone. It was a gravestone-like marble slab, but it only bore the initials "JC" with no dates. The stream does not drain a cemetery, so I'm not sure where this would have come from if it was a headstone.

Group shot--with trash!
After two hours, we had a respectable pile of debris, including ten tires. We only cleaned about 500 feet of creek bank, so imagine how much more detritus is just waiting to be washed downstream during the next storm. We'll be back next year.

Warning: Stop reading here if you're disturbed by animal cruelty

Where the tributary I was helping to clean up joins the larger stream that flows though "my" natural area, the volunteers came across a really disturbing find. Someone had nailed a dog to a tree, upside down. The dog was shriveled and badly decayed, and there was no way to tell if it had been suspended like this while it was alive or was already dead. We called the police, but there's almost no chance that they'll ever find the perpetrators. This sight haunted me all weekend.

1 comment:

Ray's Cowboy said...

Congrats on the trash. I have to pat you on the back for that.