Sweep the Creek Fall 2011

Thank You to So Many!

Thanks to all our volunteers, including site leads, tablers, and trash finders for sweeping Sligo Creek on Saturday and Sunday, September 24 and 25! We are very happy that so many people so often step into the role of “steward of the creek” a testament to the community spirit along the watershed and the shared love of the creek. Thanks also to the staff of Montgomery Parks for providing and picking up our orange trash bags and advertising our event.

We had 222 volunteers who in total picked up 167 bags of trash. While we are never happy that the trash is out there, it sure feels great to know that 167 less bags of it are there now! Some of our volunteers were part of groups, including the Parkland Swim Team, Path Finders, Earth Scouts, Pack 478 CubScouts, and GirlScout troops 1273 and 6253.

Some of the more “unusual” finds in the creek were: 12-foot length of pig iron, plastic toy dinosaur, 2 split-rail fence posts, dog collar, plastic pink pumpkin, car radio, kitchen knife, adult instructional video (in Spanish), and an old-fashioned iron “belay” (for window-washers or mountain rappelling).

Our sweep was part of National Public Lands’ Day, which for the third year in a row received a Presidential proclamation, stating that “…thousands of dedicated volunteers will continue a proud American tradition by conserving and restoring our public lands with local projects across our Nation…On National Public Lands Day, we take time to appreciate our parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, and other public spaces, and we recommit to protecting and restoring them for future generations.”

In efforts to continue data collection of the types of trash found in the Park, several sections participated in the data collection during the fall cleanup: sections 3, 4, 8, 9, and 10L. All the trash in these five sections was tallied for a total of 8,008 items recorded. The top ten items tallied made up 91 percent of the total items (see chart below). For the third sweep in a row, plastic bags totaled the number one trash item at 2075 bags, followed by aluminum cans (1554), food wrappers (1166), plastic bottles (1115), glass bottles (354), cups, plates, utensils (310), clothing (274), styrofoam bits (183), plastic sheeting (125) and beverage caps/lids (105). With the Montgomery County bag bill coming on-line January 1st, it will be interesting to see if the number one litter item in the Park is reduced as we continue data collection next year.

Thanks again to all for making the 2011 Fall Sweep a success and if you missed it, here are some photos of all the work and collaboration that happened to keep our Sligo creek clean.

Patton Stephens, Sweep Coordinator