Friends of Accotink Creek
Potomac Watershed Cleanup
April & May 2021

Thanks go out to all the Friends of Accotink Creek participating in the Potomac Watershed Cleanup along our 12 adopted stretches of Accotink Creek in 2021!

See all our cleanup photos on SHUTTERFLY !

Girl Scout Toop 1330 prepares to venture forth to the creek with the Girl Scout sign.
Our May 1, 2021 stream cleanups:

We had another day of splendid cleanup weather, with clear skies and mild temperatures that began cool in the mid-40's, but rose to just touch 70 degrees by mid-afternoon. It was on the breezy side, so we kept our awning only halfway raised as a precaution.

Volunteers commented on the paucity of trash today. May we hope our message is slowly having its effect of reducing littering at the source? Also notable was the paucity of fish in Accotink Creek. This is a troubling anecdotal observation that has become common in the past few years.

At King Arthur Road, our first site of the day, 15 volunteers joined us. Our volunteers collected 17 bags of trash and 3 tires. Our most unusual find here was a child-size plastic chair. We took the opportunity to collect fresh shoots from the bamboo grove (an exotic invasive) along the creek. We distributed them to culinary adventurers among our volunteers throughout the day.

At our second site of the day, Little River Turnpike, our 28 volunteers included a contingent from Girl Scout Troop 1330, led by our veteran royal volunteer, National American Miss Preteen Virginia. Thank you, Troop 1330! Our volunteers collected 21 bags of trash and one tire. Our efforts included a visit to the VDOT "staging area" just north of Little River Turnpike. This area has become quite a magnet for illegal dumping, mostly of landscapers' yard debris. An especially shameful find here for VDOT was 12 discarded "road work" signs. Even that was not our most unusual find, as one volunteer returned with a dollar bill inside a water bottle, perhaps meant as some sort of religious offering.

Braddock Road was our last site of the day. Our 12 volunteers included the Bishop O'Connell High School Ecology Club - >b>Thank you, Ecology Club! The crew collected 15 bags of trash and one tire. Our most unusual find here was a rather uninteresting umbrella.

Girl Scout Troop 1874 celebrates a successful cleanup.
Our April 24, 2021 stream cleanups:

A forecast of afternoon showers kept receding later and later, enabling us to complete a day of dry cleanups. We started out with bright blue skies, then overcast, with comfortable temperatures mostly in the 50's.

At Pickett Road, our first site of the day, we had a turnout of 22 volunteers. We were joined by Girl Scout Troop 1874. Thank you, Scouts! Our volunteers hauled 18 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 find here was a fish trap.

At Barkley Drive, our second site of the day, our 45 volunteers again included the Girl Scouts of Troop 1874. We had the assistance of two young volunteers, Macie Martino and Alyx Sheridan, who took charge of running the cleanup, signing in and briefing volunteers, handing out gloves and bags, and tallying the collected trash. Thank you, Macie and Alyx!! Our volunteers cleaned out 33 bags of trash and one tire. Our most unusual find here was a military first aid kit.

Woodburn Road was our last site of the day. We were the beneficiaries of Jackson Dreifuss' bar mitzvah project. Jackson recruited the majority of our 30 volunteers, led them into the woods, and lent a hand with logistics. Thank you, Jackson! Our volunteers filled 17 bags with trash. Our oddest find here was the rather mundane remnants of a a small wooden table.

Our April 17, 2021 stream cleanups:

Another splendid day for stream cleanups. Temperatures were on the cool side, staying in the mid-50's all day, with sunny morning skies changing to overcast by afternoon.

At our first location, Fairfax Blvd, we had a crew of 26 volunteers who removed 16 bags of trash. We were joined by Girl Scout Troops 1159 & 1852. Thank you, Girl Scouts! Several volunteers remarked on the paucity of trash compared to previous years. We hope this was due in part to the efforts of the City Jobs program, which provides employment for residents of homeless shelters, including trash removal along streams. Our most unusual find today was a child's "Hello Kitty" scooter in working order, found by our returning royal volunteer, National American Miss Preteen Virginia

At our second location, Chain Bridge Road, we had 11 volunteers, who removed 15 bags of trash. We found two shopping carts here, one abandoned in the woods which we were able to return to the store, and another so deeply buried in the rocks of the streambed we had to leave it for the archaeologists of the future. Our most unique find here was a pair of quite new boxing gloves, which our volunteers donned for photos delivering a "knockout" to trash.

Old Lee Hwy, our last location of the day, saw a turnout of 10 volunteers who collected 17 bags of trash Our most unusual find here was a crime busters adventure, as our volunteers found a purse and its contents - smartphone (still working), credit cards, driver's license - scattered in the water near the bridge. Using the address on the driver's license, we returned the items to the owner and learned the purse had been stolen a few days earlier.

A kayaking cleanup voyage on Lake Accotink led to the discovery of a new species, the Dancing Tree Crawdad. (Just a comical-looking fishing lure found caught in a tree branch)

Boxing gloves found along the creek inspire volunteers to deliver a knockout punch to trash
Our April 10, 2021 stream cleanups:

Our day began with overcast skies that cleared by midafternoon, while temperatures began in the 50's and rose into the low-seventies.

At Fullerton Road, our first site of the day, we had 40 volunteers, who collected 37 bags of trash. About half our volunteers were from Boy Scout Troop 702. The scouts took on the area of illegal dumping down the slopes of the Accotink Gorge behind the Costco building, where they removed 27 tires, a sofa, and five PC computers, among other debris. Thank you Troop 702! Returning from last fall's cleanups, we were also joined by National American Miss Preteen Virginia and her royal entourage. Other than the five computers, our most unusual find here was a toy dinosaur, somewhat in line with our recent lesson on the prehistory of the Accotink Gorge.

At our second site, Franconia-Springfield Parkway, another crew of 40 volunteers entirely from the South County Youth Club's West End Rugby team removed 36 bags of trash and two tires. We moved our meeting point down the street from previous years and were rewarded with the sight of woods carpeted with Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica), a native wildflower, and pools teaming with newly-hatched tadpoles. On the surrounding streets, we saw the residents of the Daventry neighborhood out for their annual cleanup with yellow and blue bags matching our own. Our most unique find at this site was two motorcycle frames discarded in the woods.

Our last site of the day was Telegraph Road, where 8 volunteers removed 13 bags of trash. "Bluebell Island" formerly a location of mature woods with rich stands of these native wildflowers, has been almost entirely washed away by a shift in the stream channel, leaving only a scene of "Biblical" devastation. Also "Biblical" was our find of two large blocks of Styrofoam forming a crucifix and two more blocks that filled in as the tablets bearing the 10 Watershed Commandments.

Elsewhere in our watershed, neighbors organized a stream cleanup along the headwaters of Accotink Creek at Hallman Street. A dispatch from that cleanup: "...a kid pulled a tire out of the stream. Then a (wise)guy beside him said, "Bet you can't answer this: What's a ring-shaped component that surrounds a wheel rim to transfer a vehicle's load from the axle thru the wheel to the ground and to provide traction on the surface over which the wheel travels?" The poor kid was flummoxed". Our thanks to the neighbors of Hallman Street!

April 10, 2021, Eagle Scout Project:
This cleanup was part of an Eagle Scout project planned and executed by Ben Waddell from Troop 152 in Vienna. Benís project was about education and action to reduce the amount of plastic in our waters and oceans. He educated the Troop on the issues of plastics in our waters and then organized a cleanup day at Accotink Creek near Thaiss Park. In six hours the group collected over 780 pounds of bagged trash and large items including 2 shopping carts, a weight rack, a plastic chair, a tire, a sign, a sleeping bag, a gutter, and a coconut. Thank you, Ben and Troop 152!

Racers, start your engines - for the race to recycle tires at the Costco tire shop!

Troop 152 with their haul of trash at Thaiss Park

The graphic report from just one of Ted's solo cleanups.

Heroic solo wintertime cleanup:

We want to recognize the impressive efforts of Ted Plunkett, who conducted solo cleanups through late winter in the Wakefield Park area.

Ted documented his cleanups with photos and graphics we added to our cleanup photo album on SHUTTERFLY.

Ted has done cleanups like this for years in and around Wakefield Park, and he's earned our gratitude and admiration.

Thanks, Ted!

See all our cleanup photos on our SHUTTERFLY page!

Since 1989, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has spearheaded the Potomac Watershed Cleanup. Now the largest regional event of its kind, the cleanup has engaged over 40,000 volunteers and 300 partners and removed more than 1500 tons of trash from the Potomac Watershed.

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

Learn more about Clean Virginia Waterways

Litterbugs: Their selfish behavior is the "gift" that keeps on giving. Trash may be out of sight and out of mind for the litterer, but it continues to blight communities and habitats far removed in time and distance. When litterers make the decision to solve their immediate disposal problem irresponsibly, they are also making the decision to create problems that endure for generations. Filth is the monument they build for themselves.