Cleaning Up Church Creek
South River Federation project on Saturday part of larger Project Clean Stream, a Chesapeake Bay-wide clean-up effort.
Some of the volunteers Saturday didn’t even know there was a stream at the end of the Home Depot parking lot along Forest Drive.
But workers with the South River Federation (SRF) were familiar with the headwaters of Church Creek. And they were only all too familiar with the amount of trash and garbage that is commonly dumped over the steep hillside behind Outback Steakhouse and Bertucci’s.
And that’s why the SRF chose the site for the local portion of the Chesapeake Bay-wide clean-up effort, Project Clean Stream. The event was sponsored on the large scale by the Alliance for the Chesapeake and Perdue, and locally by the SRF, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, along with Home Depot and Bertucci’s.
The goal was to have at least 4,000 volunteers cleaning up 165 sites around the bay. Last year, the larger effort included 3,600 volunteers at 140 sites, who helped clean up 118,000 pounds of trash, according to the SRF.
On Saturday morning, more than 35 volunteers spread out over the hillside, carefully navigating the slippery slope, filling bag after bag with trash that had most likely blown across the large parking lot and over the hill.
But the area sandwiched at the intersection of Solomons Island Road and Forest Drive, across from the Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole, had more than trashy debris hidden in its undergrowth.
Nick and Kristin Long of Edgewater mustered the strength to roll the broken remnants of a reclining chair end over end up the slope. The couple said they weren’t expecting such garbage to have been dumped there.
“We were going to try to carry it up, but I was, like, ‘No way,’” Kristin Long said.
Nick Long said they’ve been trying to volunteer at similar events more often, but most of their free time as of late has been eaten up working on the fixer-upper they bought in south county.
“We’ve been trying to make it to these kinds of events more often,” Nick Long said.
“I didn’t even know there was water here,” his wife said. “It’s pretty disgusting down there.”
County Councilman Chris Trumbauer, who pitched in Saturday morning along with his young children Josephine and Johnnie, muscled an old television, with built-in dvd player, up the hillside.
“The whole idea was to go to the farmers market, but I couldn’t help myself,” he said, shortly after catching his breath from heaving the TV.
Meanwhile, his 5-year-old son was helping 12-year-old Arianna Mueller lug a vacuum cleaner up the slope.
Erik Michelsen, SRF executive director, said Church Creek is one of the worst waterways in the county, surrounded by 47 percent impervious surface and in the midst of five major shopping centers.
“This is a site you can come back to year after year,” Michelsen said.
He said the SRF plans to ask the county to possibly put up fencing across the top of the hill to help stop the late-night dumpers, as well as catch the trash blowing across the lot.
Diana Muller, Riverkeeper for the South River, said she often stops by the site in the evening and finds what she calls the midnight dumpers.
“You’ll see the pick-ups just pull up along the hill and just start tossing stuff over the side,” she said. “I don’t get it. I mean, you can take it to the county dump for free.”
Aside from improving the watershed, Muller said Saturday’s clean up also was well timed with the return of the ospreys. She said the birds are now nesting and are attracted to the plastic bags, string, fishing line and the like to make their nests.
But those items can be harmful, even fatal, to the birds.
Patrick Regimenti of Cape St. Clair, was one of the five Home Depot employees who volunteered for the clean up. In addition to the workers, Home Depot also provided the bags and gloves for the day.
“I didn’t even know we had a stream here,” Regimenti said. “It’s a lot nicer out here than I thought it was going to be. But it is obnoxious that people dump here.”
Regimenti was a little confused over a metal object he uncovered, complete with weeds growing out of it. Was it a side mirror from a car? Possibly. Upon closer inspection, it looked the casing for fog light from a car, with wires still hanging from it.
“That’s not even the strangest thing I found today,” he said. “I found a red-haired wig. At least I hope it was a wig.”