The annual James River Regional Cleanup was essentially a scavenger hunt for trash treasure with hundreds of happy volunteers looking hard to find things that we no longer wanted to soil our precious water playground. Nearly 100 volunteers met in the Reedy Creek parking lot in the early morning to get their trash bags and pickers and get […]
The annual James River Regional Cleanup was essentially a scavenger hunt for trash treasure with hundreds of happy volunteers looking hard to find things that we no longer wanted to soil our precious water playground.
Nearly 100 volunteers met in the Reedy Creek parking lot in the early morning to get their trash bags and pickers and get their location assignments from James River Park manager Ralph White, a man very familiar with trash and recycling.
As of Thursday, more than 960 volunteers had registered to participate in the 12th Annual James River Regional Cleanup, which also for the first time included cleanup activities along the Appomattox River. The event was sponsored by the James River Advisory Council, in cooperation with the James River Association and Friends of the Lower Appomattox River.
There were many of the usual James River suspects at the cleanup. Friends of the James River Park members volunteered with registration and direct volunteers through the bustling parking lot while the XTERRA 10k runners buzzed through. Members of JRA and James River Outdoor Coalition showed up, dropping off kayaks, rafts and canoes and prepared for trash treasure hunt.
Rich Young and his dog Rush were there, headed downtown to tackle hard to reach islands. Greg Velzy, the Chesterfield County outdoor programs director and a member of JROC, took a group down the river from Pony Pasture to Reedy Creek and pulled two car tires and a couple of bags of trash from the shorelines.
JROC memberJeff Ensley pulled three bags of trash and recycling from the Main Area of the park, along the rocks at 42nd Street. He said the only negative for him was a smashed six pack of beer bottles among the granite rocks — a tough chore to clean.
JROC president Chris Hull found a car bumper with an unexpired license plate, a near-full can of anti-freeze and plenty of recyclable bottles and cans in the area west of the Manchester Climbing Wall, a spot just downriver from Belle Isle notorious for collecting trash, driftwood and anything the James coughs up.
I took my brother-in-law and his family paddling around the Reedy Creek area, looking for anything to jam into my kayak. My 10-year-old nephew, Spencer, and I tackled the pile of driftwood below the takeout sign at Reedy Creek, filling my trusty black trash bucket twice with recyclables and bits of styrofoam. He pretended to be trying out ‘Dirty Jobs’ on Discovery channel. The five of us collected about two bags of trash and recycling from the hard-t0-reach shorelines. It was a great way to teach my nephew and niece about paddling while we looked for trash.
After the cleanup, the real work began as many volunteers picked through all the 100s of bags of trash collected, sifting through for recyclable materials. That job is toughest on the olfactory nerves, as the smelly stuff had a chance to get cooked in the bag a little in the hot sun before the sorting could begin.
There were stories of propane tanks, lawn chairs, barrels, grills, pots & pans, tarps, two bikes, busted innertubes, diapers, excessive amounts of cigarette butts and fishing gear and (literally) a ton of bottles and cans from the cleanup. The stories of the worst found items made the cookout lunch after the cleanup at little tougher to stomach. If anyone found anything of real value, we didn’t hear of it. A least there were no stories of dead bodies.
What was the best/worst you pulled out of the river? We need to hear more stories! Also, see more photos from the James River Regional Cleanup at Reedy Creek on my flickr page. Thanks to all the volunteers!