Cleanups: Removing litter
from Middle River
2022 Cleanup Photo Gallery above
2021 Litter pickup along Lewis Creek by FOMR and the Staunton-Augusta Family YMCA's Youth Volunteer Corp.
Untamed, Life is Wild
Season 2, Episode 6:
Critters Don’t Need Litter
June 25, 2020
What is StreamSweepers?
StreamSweepers is a statewide river restoration, training and work experience program run by The Center for Natural Capital (TCFNC) for college-aged young adults and veterans.
FOMR has partnered with the program to map trash locations and assess river conditions in 2018 and 2020 on portions of the Middle River for TCFNC’s use in removing trash too large for FOMR to remove and for identifying potential areas for river restoration." Read more HERE.
Every year, FOMR sends out teams of volunteers in canoes to pull trash out of the River. Why does this matter? What problems does river litter cause?
Most people can agree that one reason to clean up the litter is aesthetic...we have a beautiful river and it is most pretty when there is no trash in sight! Litter is ugly and implies that people don't care about where they live.
But maybe even more importantly, litter hurts the river and her residents. Turtles and fish ingest small bits of plastic their bodies cannot digest. Fishing line left streamside gets wound around the legs of ducks and geese and can trap them. Small bits of plastic wash downstream eventually to the ocean, where wildlife there are negatively affected.
Then there are effects you cannot even see. For example, tires that sit in the river for decades slowly fall apart and release chemicals into the water. The chemicals pollute the water.
Middle River gets trash in and along it banks primarily from two sources: 1) stormwater runoff and floods which pick up loose items and pull them to the river 2) intentional or careless human dumping. The River has a lot of what is known as “legacy trash” which is trash that has accumulated over many decades.
And every year, we chip away at the amount of trash in the riverbed. New trash gets deposited, but the net amount of legacy trash appears to be decreasing over time. The types of flood-related trash we find are things like farm gates, lawn chairs, and construction materials. The type of dumped or careless trash we collect are things like tires and abandoned fishing tackle. Because Middle River doesn’t run through any towns or cities (except Verona) it does not accumulate as much small litter trash as would, say, South River in Waynesboro. The trash we pull out tends to be larger items.
FOMR’s cleanup week is usually in mid August when the water is low (so you can see the trash) and the temperatures are still warm. Volunteers clean up by walking in the River pulling a canoe behind them which acts as a barge for the trash collected. A team consists of between 2 to 10 persons per team who clean a mile or two of the River. Other volunteers sometimes act as land crews and help unload, sort and inventory the trash. Then the trash is transferred to a dumpster. In recent years Virginia Eagle Distributing Co. has allowed us to park the dumpster on their lot for a week while we work. The dumpster service has been partially donated by Green Earth, LLC. And the County of Augusta landfill allows us to unload our dumpster at a discount. So, the FOMR cleanup is a true community/partner endeavor.