Friends of Accotink Creek
Virginia Waterway Cleanup Day
part of the International Coastal Cleanup
September & October, 2018

Thanks to all the Friends of Accotink Creek who joined the International Coastal Cleanup along our 12 adopted stretches of Accotink Creek this cleanup season. Thanks to all their efforts, we together removed 183 bags of trash, 21 tires, and junk ranging from a fire extinguisher to bicycles.

See all our cleanup photos on our SHUTTERFLY page!

The Vision: Legions of volunteers sweeping over the length of the creek and tributaries, clearing trash before them like swarms of locusts, then pressing on as zealous missionaries to spread the message far and wide to take responsibility for stopping litter at the source.

This fearsome fishing lure was found in the marina.
October 13, 2018, Cleanup:

Autumn weather was suddenly upon us today for the Lake Accotink cleanup, with overcast skies and temperatures not reaching 60 degrees.

At Lake Accotink Park, one group spent its time lifting logs and woody debris out of the marina along with the trash that always accumulates there. A Friends of Lake Accotink Park crew devoted its time to tidying up the boathouse and the roundabout pollinator garden. Other volunteers fanned out around the park, seeking out trash wherever it could be found.

A surprising find among the marina debris was a live freshwater mussel, the first one seen (alive or dead) in the lake in many years. It appears to be of the species Paper Pondshell (Utterbakia imbecillis). We shall have to remember to search for and rescue mussels when Lake Accotink is next dredged.

"Last year, the US used enough plastic water bottles to stretch around the world over 190 times." - How many of them ended up in Accotink Creek?

Our October 6, 2018, stream cleanups:

We enjoyed a day of mild temperatures and overcast, but dry skies. Conditions were just right to make numerous webs of funnel spiders in the grass glisten with tiny morning dewdrops.

Fairfax Boulevard was our first site of the day. Adopt-A-Spot volunteers of the Harley-Davidson dealership were busy along the street while we covered the stream. The GMU Appalachian Service Project again turned out among our 9 volunteers. Thank you, GMU! Our volunteers collected 13 bags of trash and one tire. We found nothing more unusual here than a soggy old rug.

At Chain Bridge Road, our second site of the day, we had a group of 7 volunteers. The volunteers removed 7 bags of trash and a submerged shopping cart that emerged from the water only after a fierce struggle. Our most amusing find here was an unopened only-slightly-rusty food can missing its label but not expired until 2020 - none of the volunteers seemed interested in taking home this meal of free "mystery meat".

Our last site of the day was Old Lee Hwy. Here we had only one solitary volunteer. We collected 6 bags of trash, 2 tires, and a bicycle. An unusuual find was a squash racquet that had been lost so long a tree branch had grown into its strings.

"Consider the cost to engineer a water amenity like Accotink Creek compared to the cost of preserving what nature has blessed us with." - Donald Pless

Remember to remind your groups of the importance of proper cleanup during and after all outdoor activities.

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse!

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. - Aristotle

Volunteers at Chain Bridge Road with their collection.

A passing remote control motorboat was pressed into trash hauling service.
Our September 29, 2018, stream cleanups

The day was dry with temperatures in the low eighties, providing good cleanup conditions.

At Pickett Road, our first site of the day, we had a good turnout of 36 volunteers. We were joined by contingents from Northern Virginia Community College, Edison High School National Honors Society, and GMU Appalachian Service Project. Thank you NVCC, Edison, and GMU! Our volunteers hauled 51 bags of trash and 2 tires out of the creek, but it is only a tiny fraction of what is out there. Our most unusual finds here were a broken street lamp base and two sections of 18" plastic drain pipe.

There was an unusual phenomenon taking place. The creek has changed course, shifting course from its former main channel to flow through what had been a dry secondary channel. This has caused a stretch of the creek to reverse course, carrying the flow from a tributary to the new main channel.

Our volunteers had some criticisms for the neighbors, noting that they found a number of driveway newspapers still in their wrappers washed down into the creek and also a number of nursery plant trays that clearly originated at the upstream Home Depot. A volunteer spoke to the Home Depot manager and received promises of taking greater future care.

At Barkley Drive, our second site of the day, our 19 volunteers again included GMU Appalachian Service Project. Thanks again, GMU! Our volunteers cleaned out 31 bags of trash and 7 tires. Most of the tires were hauled out by the efforts of one indefatigable volunteer. Our unusual finds here included a child's bicycle, a tricycle, and a lawn chair.

Woodburn Road was our last site of the day. Here 16 volunteers filled 18 bags with trash and found 2 tires. The strangest find here was a blue Pepsi crate for 2-liter bottles.

A special guest at this site was Erika Yalowitz, candidate next year for Providence District supervisor. See the video she streamed from the cleanup.

"If half of American lawns were replaced with native plants we would create the equivalent of a 20 million acre national park - nine times bigger than Yellowstone, or 100 times bigger than Shenandoah National Park." - Dr. Doug Tallamy
Our September 15, 2017, stream cleanups:

The feared remains of Hurricane Florence steered far to our south, giving us a decent day of overcast skies with highs in the upper seventies.

At King Arthur Road, our first site of the day, 6 volunteers joined us. Our volunteers collected 17 bags of trash and 3 tires. However, the great tractor tire half-buried in the sand at this location still defied us for another season. Our most unique find was a fire extinguisher.

At our second site of the day, Little River Turnpike, our 6 volunteers collected 18 bags of trash. Our most unusual find here was three joined sections of 8" white PVC pipe. The larger 18" section of pipe that has long been embedded in the gravel at this location again laughed at our puny efforts to dislodge it. Our volunteers focused most of their attention on the trash caught on a logjam that has accumulated at a trail bridge over Accotink Creek.

We had a bit of drama here when a bicyclist limped into our base after having injured himself on the nearby BMX jumps. We provided a lift to the hospital. These jumps are a sad and out of control scar in the woods of the park.

Braddock Road was our last site of the day. Our 8 volunteers collected 14 bags of trash and 4 tires. Our most unique find was a gas pipeline warning post. Volunteers engaged in a brief post-cleanup game of "trash ball" inprovised with a toy bat and water bottle from among our finds.

Time lapse volunteers: King Arthur Road & Little River Turnpike

How many ways can the message of personal responsibility be expressed?
No littering! No Dumping! Pitch in! Put trash in its place!
We all benefit by being reminded!

GET YOUR BRAIN WET! Think about your creek.

Turtle toy expresses its opinion of those who turned it into trash in Accotink Creek

Museum pieces - Pop-top cans circa 1970's
Our September 1, 2018 stream cleanups:

The weather forecast was for thunderstorms all day, but instead the dark clouds of morning blew away for a decent day of mixed sun and cloud. Humidity was uncomfortably high, though, with temperatures in the high eighties. We were happy the clouds blew away, but so did our volunteers - only a single volunteer appeared to join today's lonely cleanup coordinator. High water was also an issue preventing us from accessing as much of the banks as we would have liked, with the creek still at an elevated level from rainfall Friday.

At our first site of the day, Fullerton Road we removed 2 bags of trash. Our most unusual find here was a hubcap.

At Franconia-Springfield Parkway, our second site of the day, our lone volunteer of the day joined us. We collected 4 bags of trash here, all routine stuff.

Our last site of the day was Telegraph Road. Here we hauled out another 2 bags of trash. That's not enough to even make a dent in the huge accumulations of trash that we see here, trapped behind logjams. We were frustrated by the sight of several tires too challenging to extract without a full crew.

Despite all the wonderful volunteers who have turned out to help, we are still outnumbered by the litterbugs. Your club, school, business, or other group is welcome to join Friends of Accotink Creek in next year's Potomac Watershed Cleanup in April & May, and the International Coastal Cleanup in September & October! Volunteer site leaders and coordinators are needed!

Follow the Friends of Accotink Creek motto and "Find just one other person who cares".

See all our cleanup photos on our SHUTTERFLY page!

The International Coastal Cleanup is the world's largest volunteer data collection effort devoted to the marine environment. The Ocean Conservancy compiles the data received from sites around the world, and prepares a summary report to be used by citizens and policy makers in evaluating our progress in dealing with this serious form of pollution.

GET YOUR BRAIN WET! Join Friends of Accotink Creek in next year's International Coastal Cleanup in September and the Potomac Watershed Cleanup in April!

Learn more about Clean Virginia Waterways