Plenty of need for spring cleaning


April 01, 2001|By CANDUS THOMSON

Talk to old-timers in southern Anne Arundel County and they'll tell you about the days when yellow perch spawned in Lyons Creek. But what was an integral part of spring 40 years ago is no more on the little waterway that feeds into the Patuxent River near the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary.

Runoff from development, debris swept downstream by flooding and piggy people dumping trash have plugged the creek in about a dozen places, preventing the fish from getting to spawning areas.

"Every year, it gets a little worse," says Jim Brincefield, a Deale charter boat captain and a member of the Coastal Conservation Association. "It's unbelievable what's down there."

After walking the banks last weekend, I'll tell you what's down there: sinks, old tires, paint buckets, lawn chairs and junk apparently left behind by lazy bozos playing paintball games. I filled three big, black garbage bags without making a dent. Save Our Streams estimates that cleaning Lyons Creek will fill more than two tractor-trailer-sized trash receptacles.

Brincefield hopes to start the restoration process with a Lyons Creek cleanup on April 14. To do that, he's organizing four teams of 25 volunteers each to work from the swamp down to the mouth of the creek. The crews will be supervised by a biologist from Save Our Streams or the Department of Natural Resources.

"I think we can do a significant cleanup. We're going to shoot for doing the whole thing, but we're tied to what the weather gives us," Brincefield says.

And to how many volunteers show up. The project is set for the day before Easter, but Brincefield says he had little choice in picking the date. The first Saturday in April is the big Potomac River cleanup and the third Saturday is the opening weekend of the rockfish season.

"We're all pulling from the same pool of volunteers. The day before Easter will hurt us, but we'll live with it," Brincefield says.

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, high school students fulfilling service requirements and members of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation all have promised to help. The State Highway Administration, which is doing some road work in the area as part of the Herring Bay Cleanwater Initiative, has agreed to move some of the larger blockages with heavy equipment.

But the project needs more - workers, supplies, refreshments, donations - to put it over the top. It would be nice if a few members of the American Paintball Association showed up.

"We don't have any funding. This is all volunteers," Brincefield says. "This is a perfect habitat. It would be a shame to turn our back on it."

To help, call Brincefield at 410-867-4944. Or just show up on the 14th and get your marching orders from a Save Our Streams staff member.

To get to the creek from points north, take Route 301 south to Route 4 south toward Prince Frederick. Go 5.5 miles and turn right on Lower Pindell Road. Make an immediate left onto the service road and go four-tenths of a mile. Park off the road so heavy equipment can get by. From points south, take Route 4 north and make the first left after the intersection of Route 260 onto Lower Pindell Road.

In addition to Brincefield's effort, there are a number of other spring cleaning projects worth putting on your calendar:

If you want to find a project in your own backyard, contact the Irvine Nature Center, which is coordinating "Project Clean Stream," 9 a.m. --noon on Saturday.

Sixty-eight waterways in Baltimore City and in Baltimore, Howard, Carroll and Harford counties have been targeted for a spring cleaning, said Christel Cothran, a spokeswoman for the nature center.

The regional effort is patterned after the popular Potomac Watershed Cleanup. Last year, the Baltimore-area project attracted 200 volunteers working at 17 sites. This year, Cothran expects 600 people.

The cleanup is being aided by a $9,600 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust (the license plate folks). "This is something that should go all around the bay, but this is only our first real stab at it," Cothran said of the effort.

For site locations and volunteer information, call 410-484-2413.

If you are retired or have that Friday off, how about helping out on April 13 as my good friends in the Maryland chapter of Trout Unlimited plant trees at the Hidden Valley Tract at Rocks State Park in Harford County?

This is the eighth year Bud Waltz and the gang have done their part to make public land prettier. The work will go on, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bring work gloves.

If you need directions or more information, call Mike Huneke at the Department of Natural Resources forest division, 410-836-4551.

Over in Dorchester County, volunteers will be sprucing up the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on April 14.

Maggie Briggs, the outdoor recreation coordinator, said the tidal areas look pretty ragged after a winter of trash washing ashore.

"We can use all the volunteers we can get," she said.

Bring boots and work gloves; the center will supply plastic bags, snacks and drinks. Your reward - in addition to helping to preserve a beautiful marshland - could be seeing a bald eagle soaring overhead or perched in a nest.

Just show up at the Visitors Center anytime from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 410-228-2677.

The folks who are building and caring for the Glenn Page Nature Trail at Fort McHenry already have enough help for their Wetland Arbor Day on Saturday. But they could use a hand for the next three field days on June 2, Sept. 15 and Dec. 1.

Volunteers are always needed to help dig out non-native plants and plant native vegetation and to remove debris that washes up from the harbor.

To volunteer, call Angie Lawrence at the Baltimore Aquarium, 410-576-1508.

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