Neighbors, school groups, clubs, families and other creek stewards work together twice yearly to remove litter from Sligo Creek, both to restore its natural beauty and to develop a closer connection to this wonderful natural resource in the heart of our communities.

Sweep the Creek: An Initiative of the FOSC Stewards

During the Spring and Fall Sweep the Creek events, hundreds of people come out to help rid the park of trash, keep the water clean for wildlife and plants and experience the wonders of Sligo Creek in a new way. FOSC volunteers don gloves, boots, even waders, to collect an amazing variety of plastic, metal, glass and other trash that finds its way into the 8 mile length of Sligo Creek Park. Sometimes so many volunteers come out that we can also tackle eradication of invasive vines and plants under direction of a certified Weed Warrior volunteer and our Remove Invasives Program volunteers. Known as Sweep the Creek, it’s a FOSC signature program usually held over 2 days.

Ed Murtagh, Stewards Coordinator at FOSCA special thanks goes out to FOSC Steward Coordinator and Social Media maven Ed Murtagh who is organizing the Spring 2022 Sweep with Bruce Sidwell, and who organized the Fall 2021 Sweep and the 2 week Spring 2021 Sweep. The Winter MLK Day cleanup event, a mini-Sweep, had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.

Thanks to neighbors for a big sweep at the Wheaton Branch Stormwater Ponds

Thank you, Families, Students, Neighbors, Friends, for your enthusiastic participation in the Wheaton Branch stormwater pond cleanup on Sat, Feb 12. The weather was mild and just right for working outside. More than 30 participants, many of them teens and young children, came out to fill 50 trash bags with litter that repeatedly fill these ponds, which are important filtering agents for Sligo Creek. County workers are scheduled to pick up the bagged trash and recyclables on Monday, Feb. 14. Your spirit of volunteerism is a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift to our community! –Susan D.

Fall 2021 Sweep the Creek

Neighbors across the Sligo watershed Swept the Creek of litter that polluted the Creek through storm drains, been dropped along the trails, tossed from cars, dumped, etc.

7 eastern painted turtles basking in the sun on a large discarded upholstered chair floating in the Wheaton Stormwater Ponds.

Seven eastern painted turtles bask in the sun on a large upholstered chair floating in the Wheaton Stormwater Ponds. Photo by Stephen Davies, Aug 18, 2021

Sligo Litter Listserv

To explore ways to address Sligo Trash collected from the creekplastic and other kinds of litter, we have established the fosc-litter listserv. If you have an interest in litter issues beyond the bi-annual Sweep the Creek litter pick-up, you are welcome to join the listserv. Email [email protected] to request an invitation to join.

Recently the Litter group discussed other ways to tackle litter in Sligo, including: installing a trash trap in Sligo; contacting other area organizations involved in litter reduction; pursuing bag and bottle legislation; restarting storm drain painting; listing hotspots for trash in Sligo; and other ideas.

Informal neighborhood group plogging/sweeps are continuing

Picking up trash along University Boulevard's new bike lanes.Litter along University Blvd is a major trash problem for Sligo Creek. Now that we have the protected bike lanes, it is safe enough for the Monday Morning Sligo Headwaters Plogger Team to plog (pick up litter) along this highway. Four bags of litter were collected on June 21! Great job!

Storm drain art: part of building public awareness that litter harms the creek and its wildlife

Students create artwork and awareness about storm drain flowing directly to Sligo Creek This June, students got creative in order to build public awareness about the impact of litter on the Creek. They painted storm drains with messages about reducing litter and clean water. Thank you!

Many people do not know that the local storm drains flow directly into Sligo Creek, unfiltered. Litter and other threats to wildlife (such as paint, solvents, sudsy water, pet waste, roadway salt and oil, etc) create chemical pollution that harms or kills microorganisms, insects, fish, and the animals up the food chain. Last February, roadway salt from the beltway killed hundreds of fish and salamanders in a single pollution event near Sligo Creek and Forest Glen Road.

Learn more about the impact of pollution on Sligo Creek water and wildlife on the FOSC Water Quality pages.


Spring 2021: Sweep the Creek is back!

More than 400 volunteers swept Sligo of litter over two weeks in April. Thank you, all!

FOSC Stewards supported Individual / Small Group Sweeps by giving out trash bags and gloves and organizing small groups to tackle litter hot-spots according to Parks’ guidelines for safe, socially-distanced activities. A special thanks goes out to Ed Murtagh who organized the Spring Sweep this year.

Share your photos of your sweep and you and your “favorite” trash finds on facebook (hashtag #FOSCSweeptheCreek) or email them to [email protected] and we’ll post them on the website.

If you found participating in the Sweep rewarding, you can continue to “sweep the creek” on your walks in Sligo. Dispose of the litter in the Park trash cans or at home in your regular trash and recycling.

Ed Murtagh

Ed Murtagh, Sweep organizer, with friends surveying the haul at
a Sweep in Section 8

Section 4 Sweep supply table with Councilmember Evan Glass and volunteers

Section 4 Sweep supply table with Councilmember Evan Glass and volunteers

Ross Campbell and Maureen Wylie at a Sweep supply table

Ross and Maureen staffing a Sweep supply table in Section 6

A Dad and two kids sweeping the creek.

Sweeping in Section 3 Photo © Julius Kassovic

Fall 2020 FOSC Individual / Family Sweep the Creek

Many proud sweepers took care of our park and sent us their photos. Thank you for pitching to keep Sligo Creek Park clean! The wildlife thank you too.

Share your photos of your individual / family Sweep on facebook (friends of sligo creek) or email them to [email protected]


Litter covering the ground between two logs in Sligo Creek park.A group of volunteers getting ready to pick up a large pile of aluminum cans between two logs.Thanks to a partnership with the Montgomery County Parks Department, FOSC is able to provide gloves and bags for every volunteer. The trash and recycling that volunteers collect is picked up by the Parks Department.

To learn about the next event, check out the FOSC Calendar of Events. If you join Friends of Sligo Creek you will get our newsletter delivered right to your inbox so you have a convenient heads up about upcoming events and what’s going on in Sligo Creek.

Many people collect trash and recycling between Sweep the Creek events. If you do so, you can put the materials you collect either in the trash cans in the park or dispose of them at home in your regular trash and recycling containers.

The Sweep the Creek program is an initiative of the Sligo Stewards and the Litter Committee. While we have a lead for the Sweep itself, the chairperson position for the larger Litter Committee is vacant. Please let us know via [email protected] if you are interested in this volunteer position or in becoming a member of the Litter Committee.

  • Meet your neighbors
  • Preserve and improve your creek and park
  • Enhance your skill set
  • Advocate for the Creek
  • Arrange a group activity for your club or group
  • Receive the Newsletter in your inbox
  • Get early notice of events and special opportunities
  • Be a part of a Committee that plans work events, speakers, outings or advocacy for the Creek.
  • Become a FOSC Steward keeping an eye on litter, invasive plants, water quality and pollution happening in the Creek.
  • Contribute to special projects
  • Fund outdoor events, expert talks, equipment for invasive plant/litter removal, materials for the kiosks in the park, water quality testing, and more
  • Support FOSC’s outreach to schools, civic groups, and all communities
We’re listening
  • Tell us about your experience at a FOSC event
  • Suggest an activity
  • Voice your concern about an environmental issue