News / USA

US River Cleanup a Rite of Spring for Eco-Volunteers

A volunteer removes trash from Boiling Brook in Maryland.
A volunteer removes trash from Boiling Brook in Maryland.

Multimedia

TEXT SIZE - +
June Soh

Every April, in the weeks leading up to Earth Day, tens of thousands of volunteers converge on parks, forests and streams throughout the sprawling, four-state Potomac River watershed, on America's East Coast. They come to gather up and haul away hundreds of tons of trash before it winds up in the Potomac - the main drinking water source for towns and cities across the region.   Our reporter joined some volunteers on a recent weekend cleanup and has this report.

"We are going to be picking up the regular trash in the yellow bags, picking up the recycling in the blue bags," said Sue Beffel.

Sue Beffel is the site leader for the cleanup at Colvin Run.  The Virginia stream is one of 428 cleanup sites all along the Potomac River, which runs through Washington, DC and flows into the Chesapeake Bay, an estuary on the Atlantic coast.  There's a wide variety of trash to clean up, including tires, plastic bottles, beer cans, and other careless cast-offs.

"Amazing how many cigarette butts, even in the middle of the woods," she said.

Beffel has been involved in these annual cleanups for 10 years.

"I wanted to find an activity that would really engage me," said Beffel. "And it seemed like the quality of my neighborhood, the quality of the water and the air was something that was very important to me."

Cindy Foster joined four years ago:

"Because I cannot stand all the scene when I walk through the woods, which I do frequently, all the things that are littered," said Foster. "So I help clean it up."

The Potomac River Watershed Cleanup began 23 years ago.   The Alice Ferguson Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Maryland, organizes the annual event. Michael Herman is the board president.  

"One of the things that is really important is there are five million people that live in the Potomac River basin.  Four millions of those individuals or 80 percent rely on this.  This is their drinking water.  If we don’t keep the river clean, we are talking about spoiled water for 80 percent of the population that lives in this area."

Herman says last year alone, more than 14,000 volunteers took part in cleanup activities and he expects the number to grow this year.

"The whole expression of the environmental movement is 'Think globally, but act locally.'  It is the idea that you can make a dramatic impact by just what you are doing in your own community," said Herman. "So a lot of these community volunteers, civic associations [are participating] today.  We [also] have some Boy Scouts [and]) Cub Scouts out here."

Nine-year-old Galen Gibbons, one of the Cub Scouts, is a committed volunteer.  He says it’s his fifth time at Boiling Brook park in Maryland.

"I just have to really clean up the environment," said Galen Gibbons. "We just got to do it [and] make it a better place for everyone.  We just got to do it."

Cindy Foster believes that her participation makes a difference.

"A teeny bit, yes, but a lot of people together with teeny bits makes big, big tons," she said.

The organizers say the cleanup efforts have removed more than three million tons of trash over the years.  And they say their ultimate goal is to make the Potomac River trash-free by 2013.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid