On March 12, 2017, the City of Fredericksburg's Clean and Green Commission partnered with Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR), Viginia Outdoor Center, River Rock Outfitters, and the City of Fredericksburg Department of Parks and Recreation to host a River Cleanup event at Old Mill Park thanks to support from Project Clean Stream and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
This is a part of a year long effort from mutliple groups to protect the Rappahannock River and improve the health and beauty of our communities. The City's Clean and Green Commission works throughout the year on a "Butts are Litter Too" campaign to reduce cigarette butt litter throughout the City which is the leading piece of litter throughout the Commonwealth and Chesapeake Bay as a whole. Friends of the Rappahannock hosts river cleanup events year round with a wide variety of community groups, local businesses, students, and volunteers. They also have all the materials necessary and an inventory of cleanup sites if any groups or individuals are interested in organizing their own cleanup event.
This cleanup focused on 13 sites right along the Rappahannock River and several small streams in both City of Fredericksburg and Stafford County. We had 118 volunteers from a wide range of volunteer groups including local Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Common Ground Church, Geico, Beta Club, River Rock Outfitter, Vulcan Materials, Chick-Fil-A, and more. In addition to local groups we were very fortunate to have students from Colonial Forge High School, Brook Point High School, Germanna Community College, and Fredericksburg City Schools out leading cleanup sites!
Our volunteer crews were relentless and left no stone unturned! We maxed out three dumpsters with over 168 bags of trash, 4 bicycles, 1 mattress, 2 tires, and an air conditioning unit pulled right from the main stem of the Rappahannock River by volunteers with River Rock Outfitter! All said and done this equates to over 4,450 pounds of trash and debris.
This haul of trash and debris represents what our volunteers were able to see and safely collect. The real danger is the litter that we cannot see and easily reach. This includes micro-plastics, cigarette butts, and other small litter that is already in the waterways. Fish and Wildlife collect and consume this litter as food, nesting and bedding material, and more and it will bioaccumulate up the food chain and result in the death of millions of fish and birds acoss the world.
We celebrate the wonderful work of our volunteers today but the fight for clean water is far from over.
Check out www.riverfriends.org/events to find more ways to get involved or follow us at @river_friends