Saturday, April 9, 2011

Earth Day Cleanup of the Anacostia River

Saturday April 9 was the annual Earth Day cleanup sponsored by the organization I work for, Anacostia Watershed Society.  Each year we typically host about 2500 volunteers at around 25 sites all over the Anacostia watershed.  Months of planning was thrown into disarray Thursday and Friday as we prepared for a possible government shutdown, moving hundreds of volunteers from federal parkland.  Fortunately we have an extemely dedicated group of volunteers and there was a great turnout at the cleanup despite the changes and the cold damp weather.
The beautiful Anacostia River, April 7, 2011

This year's featured cleanup site was Bladensburg Waterfront Park (a tremendous recreational resource in our corner of Prince George's County just a few minutes from Mount Rainier).  After the cleanup we always hold a celebration featuring music, a cookout, and displays by community groups.  New Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker was scheduled to speak during the celebration but showed up early in the morning in work clothes and spent several hours cleaning up the stream banks with our volunteers.
Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker heading downriver with a boatload of volunteers
During the cleanup I piloted one of our boats on the river, taking sponsors and the media out to see all the volunteers lining the banks of the river picking up trash.  That trash doesn't come from people throwing garbage in the river, it comes from people throwing garbage on the ground all over the city.  Every time it rains, trash on roads, parking lots, and sidewalks is washed into storm sewers and straight into the river and its tributaries.  So each time it rains it's like the city has taken a bath, and the trash on the banks of the Anacostia River is the ring around the tub.

I strongly believe that a healthy community requires both a healthy economy and a healthy environment, and that both are possible if we work together and put good policies in place.  It's about the quality of life in our communities, and what we can do individually and together to make those communities thrive.

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