I joined a group of about 50 folks working to clean up South River from Waynesboro to Port Republic. Organized by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries the cleanup included participants from the Department of Environmental Quality, Trout Unlimited, JMU, Riverfest, and others who enjoy fishing and canoeing on Shenandoah Valley rivers.
It all got started in Waynesboro about 9:00 AM with coffee, juice, ham rolls, donuts, and fruit. Teams had been preassigned, maps were distributed, safety was discussed, and groups set out to clean up their own stretch of the river. Some worked on foot, walking the banks in the city. Others headed out to unload canoes, set up shuttles, and get their paddles wet.
Late summer water levels are low and we all knew we'd have to do a good bit of walking. Still, there were some riffles that added a little fun to the experience and, after a cool wet week, the weather fully cooperated with sunny skies and temps in the low 70s - couldn't have been better.
My group worked a three mile section of the river with a couple canoes, a nice size inflatable, and a kayak. Good thing we had all the flotation because, as you can see in the pictures, we hauled out a lot of stuff that has absolutely no business in any river. In addition to several huge trash bags of bottles, cans, and other consumer items carelessly tossed out by *#@^%&! idiots, we retrieved about a half dozen tires, lawn furniture, barrels, tanks, pipes, and other debris.
Larger items that will be recycled or reused.
Our team looks over bags of trash, tires, and several heavy items that made it necessary to pull canoes through shallow sections.
Thanks to everyone who organized the South River cleanup, thanks to the Riverfest folks who provided nourishment as we embarked, and thanks to the trash haulers who picked up the mountains of junk at designated points and took it to the Augusta County landfill (which forgave tipping fees for the event).
So, South River is much cleaner than it was just 24 hours ago. On to North River, Middle River, the South Fork of the Shenandoah - how many miles of rivers flow through the Shenandoah Valley? Next time you are floating along a river, fishing from a bank, or even walking along a road, take a small trash bag with you and pick up the evidence of some careless and uncaring person who passed by before you. If everyone picked up just a little....
UPDATE: The dump truck tipped the landfill scales a 1.75 tons not counting 117 tires that were pulled from the river!!! Also retrieved were 15 shopping carts, four car batteries, a computer monitor, and a toilet. The good news is that South River is so much cleaner. The bad news is there are people out there who are still trashing our beautiful valley.