Nearly 100 volunteers gathered on Sunday morning for the annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. The group was a mix of young and old; veteran conservationists and outdoor lovers, as well as children from Cub Scout Packs 118 and 1076, and Girl Scout Troop 996.
For many of the younger set, it sounded more like a scavenger hunt than a cleanup, with frequent shouts of ‘Hey! Look what I found,’ as they waded along the banks near Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge Environmental Education Center.
Groups fanned out with two sets of plastic bags, one for trash and another for recyclables. Greg Fleming, natural resource specialist for the Directorate of Public Works’ Environmental and Natural Resources Division, said that when Fort Belvoir began its cleanup 20 years ago, it was a monumental mess.
“A lot of these areas we’re cleaning today we’ve done every year, and the first few years we did it, we weren’t even able to clean all the areas up by the end of the day,” he said. “But now, we’re finishing before noon, so that’s pretty awesome.”
Some of the groups that volunteered to pick up 116 bags of trash and 13 tires included Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Navy volunteers from the Pentagon, DLA, and the Army Warrant Association.
Keeping up the health of the Potomac River is important, Fleming said.
“It’s about stewardship and the health of the river, the fish, and the animals that live around the Potomac. It’s been pretty significant over the years the amount of litter we’ve been able to clean up,” he said.
The cleaner shoreline will be the location of Earth Day activities at Fort Belvoir’s Outdoor Recreation Center Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.