Z Environment

Jones Point Park Marsh Madness Earth Day Cleanup

Alexandria, VA – On Sunday, March 20, to kick off Earth Week, The Potomac Riverkeeper Network, in collaboration with Alexandria Community Rowing and The National Park Service,  organized “Marsh Madness,” a Potomac River cleanup at Jones Point Park. Pictured (L-R) are Scott Hill from the National Park Service, Ashley Smith from Alexandria Community Rowing, and Morgan Bench from Potomac Riverkeeper Network. (Photo: Liz Bastos)

The marshland cleanup crew worked in sight of the Bridgeyard Apartments. (Photo: Liz Bastos)

Elisa, a student at Holton Arms School, and her boyfriend, Jason, a student at Sidwell Friends School, made a Sunday morning date of the Marsh Madness event. When asked what they’d found that surprised them among the driftwood, bottle caps, cast-off Chapstick tubes, bubble wrap, and styrofoam that littered the Potomac’s high tide line, Jason said, “Just the amount of trash. I actually found a whole propane tank.” (Photo: Liz Bastos)

Imee, volunteering for Earth Day with her family for her son’s community service hours for school, said, “I’m happy to be here. We all have to do what we can! It really makes me think about what we purchase and making better decisions about it, knowing that all this plastic packaging can end up in the river and littering this park that is such a pretty spot in Alexandria.” (Photo: Liz Bastos)

A volunteer challenged himself to see how much trash he could collect in ten minutes. The answer? A shocking two-and-a-half industrial garbage bags full. (Photo: Liz Bastos)

The marsh was dominated by single-use water bottles and pieces of Styrofoam. (Photo: Liz Bastos)

Finding a tide-worn rubber ducky bath toy was a poignant reminder that childhood doesn’t last forever. It’s plastic childhood toys that do. (Photo: Liz Bastos)

A piece of trash, a pen in the shape of Yoda from the movie Star Wars, serves as a reminder to everyone, “Clean up you must. There is no try, only do.” “CLEAN UP YOU MUST,” everyone starts intoning with gravitas as they pass around the figurine that becomes one of the favorite finds of the day. (Photo: Liz Bastos)

Speaking to the collected volunteers, Park Ranger Scott Hill said, “This trash that you all collect will end up in landfill. But that’s better than in the river.” He said he expected Marsh Madness cleanup volunteers to collect over 500 lbs. of trash. In one day! To put that in perspective, Four Mile Run cleanups collected 400 lbs. over the course of the month. The bags in this picture weigh about 30 lbs. (Photo: Liz Bastos)

Despite the unseasonable cold “April is the cruelest month”-type weather on Earth Day, 75 people (the maximum number of volunteers allowed by NPS) showed up to clean up. They dressed in parkas, boots, gloves, and trash grabbers, eager to restore the shoreline habitat for the birds. (Photo: Liz Bastos)

An area of Potomac River marsh after the cleanup was now pristine and welcoming for wildlife. Morgan Bench, Volunteer Coordinator for Potomac Riverkeepers, said, “This event is a great way for people to get involved in the caretaking of their river. Riverkeepers also train volunteers in community science water quality monitoring, and volunteers help raise mussels that will help filter and clean the water. We want the Potomac to be swimmable again!” (Photo: Liz Bastos)

Javier Bastos, Episcopal High School Environmental Science teacher, said, “Next year, I’m going to bring all my students.” (Photo: Liz Bastos)

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