Monday, April 15, 2013

Creek Cleanup

Trash collected by Viridian Energy volunteers
We held our annual creek cleanup along "my" creek and several tributary streams last Saturday.  Despite showers on Friday, the streams were not particularly high on Saturday, and the day was sunny and temperatures were perfect - in the low 60s.

With over 100 individuals from Scouts, church groups, and companies volunteering at this event, we needed to spread the workforce over the landscape.  I took a group to a nearby municipal park where a tributary draining the main commercial hub for the region originates.  Because of the commercial activity in this stream's headwaters, we can always count on collecting plenty of trash on the floodplain.

Round Meadow Run, the tributary where I worked,  near its mouth
I had volunteers from Viridian Energy, an electric utility supplier in the region, and from Planet Aid, a non-profit organization that re-purposes and distributes donated clothing and housewares.

Viridian Energy volunteers
Because we have not had a major flood since August 2011 when Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee roared through the valley (2012's Hurricane Sandy caused tremendous wind damage, but did not produce much rain), there was not an inordinate amount of trash to collect.  Floods wash debris out of the watershed and deposit it on the floodplain, but this year we mostly collected routine stuff, especially plastic bottles and Styrofoam.

Round Meadow Run (foreground) joining "my" creek (right)
"My" creek is too large to ford easily, so volunteers from Planet Aid used a downed tree
The volunteers from Planet Aid discovered a dead beaver in the creek just upstream of the downed tree they used to gain access to the opposite shore.

Heading back for lunch
The three Planet Aid volunteers; it's not apparent in the image, but Dave (center) had fallen in the creek
Very pregnant Lavonne (left), our marketing guru, and Kali distributed t-shirts
Back at the Visitor Center, we treated the volunteers to lunch provided by Whole Foods, and we gave each volunteer a commemorative t-shirt.

Lunch in the picnic area
The creek cleanup, our biggest event of the year, is hectic and chaotic, but it's also our biggest "friend raiser."  We don't get that much trash out of the creek, but the event gets people familiar with us, and it makes the participants feel good about being able to do something to help the environment.


packrat said...

What a terrific event, Scott. Major kudos. It's great to see people coming together to work on such a worthwhile project.

I've got to admit that when I first clicked on your post the impression I had of your first image was that of a group of people standing behind the carcass of a whale.


Carolyn H said...

Scott: boy, that looks like a lot of trash to me! Great clean-up job!

Scott said...

Carolyn: While the amount of trash collected by my group was respectable, it was by no means any sort of record for the area where we were cleaning. When the cleanup has been preceded by a big flood, we can easily get twice as much trash as I showed in my picture.

My volunteers from Viridian Energy said that our creek was way to clean for them already. They said that they had volunteered at a similar cleanup in Pennington, NJ two weeks ago. They told me that there were so many plastic bottles at the Pennington site that it literally was impossible to tell where they had cleaned even though they had spent 2-1/2 hours gathering bottles. And, I suspect all those bottles will flush into the Delaware River (and the Atlantic Ocean) with the next flood. So disheartening.

Scott said...

I can see the whale, now that you've pointed it out, Packrat! Whales occasionally get lost and come up into the Delaware estuary, but they could never get up our little creek, so I'll have to settle for a plastic replica.

By the way, all of our trash (including what was collected on Saturday) is hauled to co-generation incinerator, so it will produce some electricity instead of ending up directly in a landfill.