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Working towards a healthier watershed

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Posted on: April 13, 2023

By Alice Carlson

Since 2009, Anacostia Riverkeeper has used litter traps to help keep trash out of the Anacostia. Three such traps are in Prince George’s County: one in Mount Rainier, near North Neighborhood Park; one in Guilford Run, right behind Herbert Wells Ice Rink in College Park; and one in Seat Pleasant, located near the Addison Road Metro station.

Riverkeeper Trey Sherard, who serves as the voice of the nonprofit organization, said Anacostia Riverkeeper is dedicated to making the river a safe and fun place for all who live near the watershed. 

The county’s three litter traps are maintained by the Stream Team, which is an offshoot of Joe’s Movement Emporium. Joe’s formed the Stream Team, in 2018, to address a range of environmental issues in the county. In addition to working with Anacostia Riverkeeper, the team’s volunteers also collaborate with the City of Mount Rainier, the Prince George’s Department of Environment, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust. 

Kevin McNeill, supervisor and project coordinator for the Stream Team, noted that the floating debris traps are designed to spare aquatic wildlife. Mount Rainier was the first community in the county to have one of these traps installed, in 2018, while College Park was the second, in 2019, according to McNeill and Sherard. “The next step is to raise awareness of why these traps are necessary and get community members involved in slowing down if not stopping the issue. Litter and pollution are pandemics in themselves; we the people have the power to change this,” he stated.

In addition to taking action to enhance the health of the river, Anacostia Riverkeeper also promotes public education about the importance of waterways. Boat tours of the river, which launch from the Yard Marina in D.C., are one of the organization’s most popular activities, Sherard said.  

“People are physically cut off from the river, which is a problem, because then you have to be going there on purpose to see it. So they don’t have a relationship with it. A big part of what we do is we create opportunities for people to connect with the river. The boat tours are one of the really fun ways that we do that,” he said. 

The organization also sponsors Friday night fishing during summer months. While it is not yet safe to consume fish caught in the Anacostia, these fishing events provide another opportunity for public education, Sherard noted. 

Anacostia Riverkeeper is also encouraging passage of a bottle bill that would place a point-of-sale deposit fee on plastic, glass and aluminum beverage containers, according to Sherard. Similar bills in many other states have been shown to be highly effective at promoting recycling and reducing waste, both in landfills and in the environment. Anacostia Riverkeeper also sponsors cleanups, popular and productive events that bring out hundreds of volunteers and result in tons of trash being removed from the river each and every year. These cleanups take place at least once a month.

Anacostia Riverkeeper offers many opportunities to volunteer and is eager to work with local residents. For more information about the organization and to explore volunteer opportunities with them, go to anacostiariverkeeper.org. 

Alice Carlson is an intern with Streetcar Suburbs News.

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