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Picking Up 474 Bags of Trash

Friends of Little Hunting Creek help clean up local waterway.

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Nina Shute and Betsy Martin at Creekside Village.

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The pile of 95 bags of trash, collected by the Amundson Fellows and Riverside Estates residents

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Gum Springs residents and Cadette Girl Scout Troop 1813 with their haul from the creek in Gum Springs.

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The cleanup crew includes Nina Shute and Creekside Village youths (front row) and members of the Air Force National Capital Region Wade Davis, John Balkey, David Wilson and Haahsean Barnes.

For the 11th year, Friends of Little Hunting Creek, led by its president Betsy Martin, and a group of 191 volunteers, picked up 474 bags of trash and recyclables, 43 tires, 19 shopping carts and other items such as sofas, traffic cones, air conditioner, bed springs, bike, kitchen sink, and more.

The Friends were part of the annual Potomac Watershed Cleanup on April 6 sponsored by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Cleanup site activities took place at 14 local sites, including three managed by Del. Scott Surovell.

Some volunteers worked from boats, others on the shore, and still others worked in the marshes where large amounts of trash get trapped.

“In the tidal downstream portion of the creek you can really see the difference,” said Martin. “Right now the creek is really looking beautiful. Unfortunately, it won’t stay that way. The litter and trash just keep coming because people continue keep littering and dumping. It is truly a shame that people feel they can trash their community and their environment — and they expect that volunteers will just keep picking up after them. A better solution would be to educate people, enforce the litter laws, and create incentives to change behavior and prevent littering in the first place.”

What incentives would help prevent the littering? Martin responded: “I personally believe that a beverage container deposit law would be very helpful. People would be less likely to toss a can if they could instead get cash for it. And if they did toss it there would be an incentive for someone else to retrieve it and turn it in for a cash deposit. Studies show that beverage container deposit laws reduce the amount of bottle and can litter. A plastic bag fee would also be very helpful. We pick up hundreds and thousands of plastic bags.”

Volunteers who participated in the cleanup effort included: Girl Scout Brownie Troop 922; Brownie Troop 3551; Cadette Girl Scout Troop 1813; Cub Scout Den 888; Junior Girl Scout Troop 128. In addition, volunteers included Junior ROTC members from West Potomac High School and several Air Force National Capital Region fliers, Amundson Fellows, Judge Ian O’Flaherty, Mort Isler, Vi Garbar, Joe Bavaria, and a Girl Scout Nina Shute, who is working toward her Gold Medal Award. In addition to volunteering in the cleanup effort Shute is conducting environmental workshops for the children of Creekside Village Apartments.

For information on Friends of Little Hunting Creek, see www.friendsoflittlehuntingcreek.org.