Volunteers awash in trash clean up local streams

April 03, 2005|By Josh Mitchell | Josh Mitchell,SUN STAFF

Emily Ellickson-Brown spent hours yesterday picking up after her fellow Baltimoreans: beer bottles, food wrappers, socks, computer monitors, even a mattress.

All had been discarded along Stony Run in North Baltimore. And thanks to volunteers such as Ellickson-Brown, all will end up in city dumpsites - not the Chesapeake Bay.

"Cleaning up the little streams and rivers that go into the Chesapeake Bay are just as important as cleaning up the bay itself," said Ellickson-Brown, who worked along the creek near the Johns Hopkins University. "If you stop trash here, you're stopping it to get into the bay eventually."

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Sunday's Maryland section incorrectly stated the amount of trash expected to be collected by volunteers Saturday during Project Clean Stream, an annual effort to clean up creeks and waterways in the region. Volunteers expected to collect about 65,000 pounds of garbage.
The Sun regrets the error.

The aim of yesterday's Project Clean Stream was to beautify the streams and waterways that too often serve as dumping grounds. Many of the streams pour into waterways such as the Jones Falls in Baltimore and the Sassafras River dividing Cecil and Kent counties, which flow into the Chesapeake.

Despite the rain, more than 1,000 volunteers slogged through muddy waterways in Baltimore City and Baltimore, Howard, Anne Arundel, Harford and Cecil counties, as well as parts of the Eastern Shore. Organizers expected to match last year's collection of 65,000 tons of garbage.

Wendy Childs usually fills a trash bag when she walks her dog, Buddy, along Stony Run. Yesterday, she and her 11-year-old neighbor, Dylan Maddox, combed a steep bank near Charles Street and 39th Street, dividing glass and plastic items to be recycled, as Buddy tagged along.

"I'm a vigilante about garbage," said Childs, a 36-year-old Remington resident. "There are two hawks that live here. Every time I go out I see cardinals and robins."

Making a difference

The annual Project Clean Stream event was organized by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and regional watershed associations. The Chesapeake Bay Trust provided $11,000 in grant money for gloves, first-aid kits and other supplies, and the Baltimore Department of Public Works provided 4,000 trash bags and free trash pickup.

Local cleanups have made a difference in Baltimore, said Ellickson-Brown, a program coordinator for the Greater Homewood Community Corp. Inc.

"Illegal dumping has gone down," said Ellickson-Brown. She noted that a team of volunteers focused on a stretch of the Jones Falls near Falls Road that was recently named the Best Illegal Dump Site by Baltimore's City Paper.

Sharon Donovan, meanwhile, staked out a spot of Stony Run just below University Parkway in Wyman Park. "I love canoeing, and I want to give something back to streams, even urban streams," said Donovan, a 44-year-old health policy analyst.

Ending bad habits

She used to live in Montana, which has its share of litter problems, she said.

"You'd be surprised," Donovan said, mentioning campers who leave behind beer bottles and food wrappers.

Kate Dowling, an organizer with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, said Baltimore residents may not realize their litter ends up in the Chesapeake. "A lot of it comes from the storm drains and the streets and gets washed down there on days like this," she said.

That's a shame, she said, because Baltimore offers to pick up bulk garbage for free. "There's no reason people should feel it will cost them money to get rid of bulk items," she said. "You can call 311, and they'll arrange for three pieces of bulk to be picked up every month."

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