The Little Rocky Run stream winds over 22 miles of stream bed before emptying into the Occoquan River. The stream and its tributaries drain water out of a huge section of Centreville and Clifton. The running water gives the area a natural beauty, allowing hiking and biking trails to wind over and around the stream. After draining into the Occoquan River, it provides Fairfax County with much of its drinking water.
SINCE FAIRFAX COUNTY drinks from this stream, seeing it fill up with garbage should be a concern to residents. Tires, food wrappers, beer cans, bicycle parts, cigarette butts, toys, and other junk have been tossed carelessly into the stream, making the water both unsightly and unhealthy.
Fortunately, over the past three months, three Boy Scouts have used their Eagle Scout projects to clean up the area. They hauled out bag after bag of garbage trying to restore the area to some of its natural beauty.
On April 29th, Matt Brennan led the first project. Along with other members from Troop 1371, Matt planted 25 trees, cypresses and magnolias, around a stormwater pond near South Springs Drive. The group also hauled 11 bags of garbage out of the pond.
Matt's project was completed with help from a group called Friends of Little Rocky Run. This volunteer group seeks to educate the community on the local environment and assist all efforts to keep Little Rocky Run clean. Ned Foster, who heads this organization, noted how these projects usually just need many pairs of hands. "These [projects] were very labor intensive," he said.
Evan Heflin, 16, is a resident of Clifton, along with his mother Ann, and a member of Troop 577. In the fall, he will be a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria. He kicked around the idea of building a trail in the neighborhood around Marble Stone Drive. "It was never really more than an idea," Evan said, "I dropped it when I was put in contact with Friends of Little Rocky Run though my Scout Master." From there his project became centered on tidying up Little Rocky Run. On June 14, Evan cleaned up the stream connecting Braddock and New Braddock and placed two Adopt-a-Stream signs. This project was particularly memorable for the Friends of Little Rocky Run, since it marked the 1,000th bag of trash hauled out of the stream by volunteers.
ERIK CARLSTROM, 17, another member of Troop 577 and a rising senior at Centreville High School, lives in the neighborhood of Little Rocky Run, along with his parents Pat and Victor. Erik wanted to help out in a slightly different way. "Everyone does clean-ups, so I didn't really want to do that," he said. After surveying the area, two giant pipes caught Erik's eye. "One was made of concrete, and the other one was steel. The concrete pipe would have been a construction project." Settling on the steel pipe, Erik and 22 other volunteers carved up the giant hunk of metal into manageable chunks and removed it. The entire pipe weighed about 1,900 pounds.
As much as these projects have assisted the area, the need to keep Little Rocky Run clean is an ongoing effort. Anyone interested in helping can visit www.friendsoflittlerockyrun.com to learn more about the environment and the day-to-day changes that could help keep the stream garbage free. For example, the source of a great deal of the pollution, as the Web site notes, comes from tossing garbage down storm drains.