Volunteers pitch in to lift waterway's veil of muck

More than 500 help out at the first Middle Branch Clean Up since '02


News from around the Baltimore region

September 18, 2005|By Tyrone Richardson | Tyrone Richardson,SUN STAFF

They came by land and water. Their target: eight miles of litter and debris on the shores of Middle Branch.

A group of more than 500 students, residents, and members of businesses, community and environmental groups spent seven hours yesterday participating in the Middle Branch Clean Up, which netted 17 tons of litter and debris, organizers said.

In addition, some anglers volunteered their boats to help fish out debris floating in the water near the shoreline.

Joseph Kolodziejski, head of the city's solid waste bureau, said the one-day cleanup was an effort to beautify a waterway marred by debris and trash from storms, illegal dumping and other sources.

It was the first Middle Branch Clean Up since 2002, when more than 400 volunteers participated.

Kolodziejski said the cleanups are also an educational lesson for the volunteers and Baltimore residents.

"We need the public to stop throwing their trash around," he said. "Without this cleanup, this stuff will continue to float around our shoreline."

During yesterday's effort, more than 80 pupils from West Baltimore Middle School swarmed on a trash-littered park at the end of Port Covington Drive. The clamor of the children using rakes, shovels and brooms drowned out the sound of the water pounding against the shoreline. Occasionally, pupils shouted "Eeew!" while gawking at the stew of litter and dead crabs and jellyfish pulled from the water.

Bishear Allen, 13, walked through a patch of tall grass, reached down and sifted through a pile of debris and pulled out a yellow and white real estate lawn sign.

Fellow pupils looked on in disbelief as Bishear hurled the sign toward a pile of trash ready to be collected.

Rather than being shocked, Bishear said the sign and other debris was a lesson about his own littering habits.

"That's a lot of garbage here," he said. "I know now to not throw stuff in the gutter because I see it all ends up here."

Near the Baltimore Rowing Club, Baltimore resident Carrie Thornbery regarded the litter with disgust.

"It's really pretty down here, but when you really get down here and see all this trash, it's not too pretty," she said as she continued to fill a large trash bag with soaked debris pulled from the water.

"Styrofoam should be banned," she said. "Look at it, Styrofoam and plastic bottles last here forever. ... They never break down, and after they break apart they are all over in little pieces."

James Cooper balanced himself on a large rock near Harbor Hospital and placed a net in the water. He gave the net a few swirls in the murky water and pulled out a smelly soup that included plastic soda bottles, a sneaker and remnants of a child's toy.

"There's a catch," said the 26-year-old Baltimore resident as he placed the debris into a garbage bag.

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