On Sunday, June 13, the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) hosted their semi-annual Canoe/Kayak Cleanup of Hunting Creek and Dyke Marsh in Fairfax County by removing trash and debris from the tidal wetland that flows directly into the Potomac River and onto the Chesapeake Bay.
In addition to NVCT's staff, 25 dedicated community members volunteered their time to remove a significant amount of harmful trash built up on the shoreline and disrupted the fragile ecosystem. This debris' negative impact on water quality while harming the plants and wildlife inhabiting the area becomes more significant as the trash builds up over time.
"It's really gratifying to see the difference a small group can make in improving the health of a small portion of the Potomac's shoreline," said NVCT Land Stewardship Specialist Alyssa Hemler.
"This was a great team effort that would not have been possible without wonderful volunteers, the generous financial support of Transurban through a grant, and the on-site partnership of the Belle Haven Marina."
A handful of volunteers supported the effort just a mile upstream by removing debris from a second location. The cleanup pulled 37 heaping bags of trash, three tires, five bulky household items, and even a rusty fire extinguisher. The garbage consisted of a surprising variety of things, including footballs and tennis balls, sneakers, many pieces of polystyrene foam, bottles, plastic tubs, and small furniture. Volunteers brought enthusiasm and a healthy competitive fervor to retrieving items in hard-to-reach places.
This successful canoe/kayak cleanup would not have been possible without the passionate volunteers who came to support the event. NVCT plans to host a similar cleanup event in September to continue prioritizing the clean water sources that define the health of our region.
"With some of the heavy rain and flooding events we've had recently, the amount of trash that has built up around Dyke Marsh and Hunting Creek is really devastating to see," said NVCT Executive Director Alan Rowsome.
"We're committed to cleaning up these critical habitats as often as possible, but I also hope we can be more responsible about limiting the sources of this pollution moving forward. Every little bit counts."
NVCT has protected over 8,000 acres of land in the Northern Virginia region over the last 25 years and continues to host volunteer-based events that benefit our communities' public lands and waters.