Friends of Accotink Creek
Virginia Waterway Cleanup Day
part of the International Coastal Cleanup
September & October, 2020

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 224 bags of trash, 25 tires, and junk ranging from a leaf blower to an ankle monitor.

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.

Our October 10, 2020, stream cleanups:

The forecast had been for hurricane remnants to bring us a day of rain. Instead, there was one day's reprieve and we had a overcast skiws with mild temperatures in the 60's all day long.

Pickett Road was our first site of the day. The National American Miss Preteen Virginia, and National American Miss Junior Virginia joined us again. Our 17 volunteers collected 28 bags of trash ond one tire. Our most unusual find here was an old rusty hot water tank that two motivated volunteers excavated from the creekbed and carried back to our meeting point.

The new channel that Accotink Creek shifted to in 2018 is now looking consideraby more used, with the banks eroded down to a layer of gravel and cobbles.

At Barkley Drive, our second site of the day, we were joined by a dozen members of the Fairfax High School Green Club. Thank you, Green Club! Our 23 volunteers removed 27 bags of trash and 5 tires. Our unusual finds here included a riding bouncy ball and a still-working LED blinky ball. A couple of volunteers improvised with trash items to strike "Captain America" poses.

The Oracle of the Accotink spoke to us yet again with hints of the political future. An "Axe" brand Tee ball bat we found may be telling us that a certain Mr. "T" will be getting "the ax".

Our last site of the day, and of the season, was Woodburn Road. Here we again had the National American Miss Preteen Virginia, and National American Miss Junior Virginia with us. A surprise visitor and volunteer was the Providence District Supervisor, Dahlia Palchik. Thank you, Supervisor Palchick!

Our 11 volunteers here removed 17 bags of trash and 6 tires. Our most unusual find was a Ken doll, apparently having fallen out of favor with Barbie.

"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 apply muscle to wrest a rusty hot water tank from the creek..

Pageant winners on parade at King Arthur Road.
Our October 3, 2020 stream cleanups:

The day began on the chilly side, with temperatures in the 40's, but the skies were clear, and warmed through the afternoon into the high 60's.

At our first site of the day, King Arthur Road, we had 17 volunteers. Together they removed 24 bags of trash. Participation by International Junior Miss Starlite Galaxy, National American Miss Preteen Virginia, and National American Miss Junior Virginia lending a regal air to our cleanup.

Our most unusual find here was a stuffed Cat Boy toy from the P J Masks series.

At Little River Turnpike, our second site of the day, our 6 volunteers collected 8 bags of trash and one tire. Our most unusual find here was a tree shelter from some forgotten streamside planting site, unfortunately, not all that unusual.

Our last site of the day was Braddock Road. Here 14 volunteers hauled out 9 bags of trash and one tire. Our most unusual find here was a lost leaf blower, which two young volunteers turned into a weapon for mock combat.

Another unusual find here was a plush Santa Claus plucked from the silt, soaked in mud and face melting away, a vision of horror befitting the upcoming Halloween season.

"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 26, 2020, cleanups:

The day began with a whiff of drizzle in the air, but the drizzle fizzled away, giving us pleasant temperatures in the 60’s all day under overcast skies. Muddy water from overnight rainfall obscured the view of trash items on the stream bottom.

At our first site, Fairfax Boulevard, we had no online signups, but were pleasantly surprised when a total of 8 volunteers appeared. The volunteers collected 15 bags of trash and two tires. The radiator found next to the tires was too deeply embedded to extract. Our most unusual find here was an intact patio table which a volunteer took home.

A passing motorist passed a paper bag out his window to a mystified volunteer tying trash bags. It was not more trash, but a bag of canned goods, apparently intended to aid the less fortunate. We passed the cans on to a food bank, but the volunteer may need to consider updating his wardrobe.

This cleanup area is the same location proposed for the George Snyder Trail, another misguided trees-to-asphalt conversion project.

Our second site of the day was Chain Bridge Road, where 4 volunteers cleaned up 14 bags of trash. Our most unusual find here was an umbrella. In addition to the usual cleanup hazards of slipping and sliding, we discovered the City has installed a mysterious steel box, apparently a monitoring device of some sort, labeled with the warning “CAUTION RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS”.

Another mystic message from the Oracle of the Accotink may have delivered a murky political forecast. It came in the form of a soggy religious pamphlet, open to a page connecting postal delays and the demise of false gods.

The stream restoration done years ago at this location is showing signs of age, with the banks again eroding back in some places.

Old Lee Highway was our last site of the day. Our 6 volunteers here removed 17 bags of trash and two tires. Our unusual finds here included a 20’ aluminum extension ladder and an ankle monitor.

A passerby asked about any connection with the City Jobs program, our new ally against trash in streams. We are accustomed to seeing large number of golf balls here from the Army-Navy Country Club driving range, but there seemed to be an increased number on the north bank – perhaps an indication of an improved swing? A quick dash down the road during the cleanup enabled a visit to the workday in progress at the Daniels Run invasives project.

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.

Volunteers display the fruits of their toils at Old Lee Hwy

Green phase caterpillar of the native Imperial Moth
Our September 19, 2020 stream cleanups:

Today brought the first breath of autumn, with temperatures starting out in the low 40’s and climbing only to the low 60’s by afternoon. Still, the sun was shining bright, providing a mild day made for wandering along Accotink Creek.

At our first site of the day, Fullerton Road we had 37 volunteers. The bulk of the volunteers were members of the Junior class at the newly renamed Lewis High School. Thank you, Lewis Students! Several of the students suffered a bit more excitement than expected, when they disturbed a yellow jacket nest and suffered a number of stings. We hope the one student who came incongruously dressed in a miniskirt did not encounter any poison ivy.

Together our volunteers removed 33 bags of trash and 4 tires. As usual, the Costco tire shop helped out by recycling tires. The most unusual item found here was a GoPro camera.

The upstream portion of this site in the Accotink Gorge is becoming less and less accessible as exotic Chinese wisteria vines become so thick they make movement a real challenge.

At Franconia-Springfield Parkway, we had 9 volunteers, who collected 17 bags of trash and one tire. This included a sweep of the chronic dumping site on Hooes Road.

Our volunteers here had several unusual encounters – the sight of a flock of vultures on a gravel bar in the stream picking over the last bits of a deer carcass – a meeting with a pair of bouldering enthusiasts bound for the promontory rocks hanging over the creek near Hooes Road – and coming across a deer feeding station next to a hunters archery stand, a perhaps not entirely legal setup.

The U.S. Post Office pen found at this location may have been a cryptic message from the Oracle of the Accotink, given the current pre-election furor over the Post Office. Is the writing on the wall?

Our last site of the day was Telegraph Road. Here eight volunteers hauled out 18 bags of trash. We also brought out two tires, but had to leave behind three others, either too deeply buried or too large to bring out. Our most unusual finds here were an orange safety cone and a VDOT sign tripod.

As we were packing to depart, we were startled by the sight of a huge green caterpillar creeping across the parking lot. It appeared to be the green phase of the native Imperial Moth Eacles imperialis, which we moved to the safety of the woods.

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