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Many Hands Make for a Cleaner Potomac

The Potomac River is a little cleaner this week thanks to the efforts of volunteers from local schools, scout troops and civic organizations. These groups helped fill more than 200 bags with garbage collected from along the banks of the river.

Park rangers established checkpoints along the river where volunteers could check in and get garbage bags and gloves. Also available were tools for cutting the invasive vines along the river.

One of those checkpoints was Dyke Marsh. Park Ranger Anna Moline checked in volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 996, T.C. Williams High School, The Campagna Center's Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), the Alexandria Seaport Foundation (ASF), and the National Park Service (NPS). There were even some students from Lakota High School, Lindsey Schuh's alma mater. Schuh is the RSVP coordinator of environmental and tutoring projects and when the North Dakota school called The Campagna Center looking for activities during their field trip to Washington, D.C.. Schuh asked them to join in the trash cleanup.

Linda Dienno, RSVP Manager of Volunteers and Programs, said, "Everybody put on their gloves and started picking up." She said that the partnership among RSVP, ASF and the National Park Service began about three years ago.

"They were looking for volunteers and we were looking for things for our volunteers to do," said Dienno.

IT ALL CAME together when RSVP volunteers were helping out at T.C. Williams. A National Park Ranger was there as well and mentioned that they needed help with invasive vine cutting. They were setting up field trips with some of the ecology classes at T.C. and RSVP volunteers were more than happy to help.

Alexandria Seaport Foundation got involved as well, and all three members of this partnership have been helping ever since.

Other checkpoints were at Fort Hunt, where Park Ranger Kathleen Drew and volunteer Lynda Busse organized volunteers. Daingerfield Island, where members of the Washington Area Parrot Club from Springfield helped out, was another key spot along the riverfront.

Dana Dierkes, Park Ranger Supervisor, said that there were a total of 145 volunteers; which was significant considering the weather.

BETWEEN Daingerfield Island and Riverside Park, volunteers gathered a total of 265 bags; 60 of which were potential recyclable materials. Dierkes said that the only unusual items found this year were a spotlight; bedspring and mattress; water-ski; cooler; and a rake. She said that members of the Girl Scouts of America, Friends of Little Hunting Creek, and Thomas Jefferson High School also contributed to the cleanup efforts.