By Alice Carlson
Anacostia Riverkeeper is a non-profit organization dedicated to making the river a safe and fun place for all those who live near the watershed, said Trey Sherard, who has been a member of the group since 2011. He has a hand in bringing in volunteers to help keep the river at its best.
As part of that effort, the organization has installed a series of litter traps along the Anacostia. There are three such traps in Prince George’s County, including one in College Park that is installed in Guilford Run, right behind the Herbert Wells Ice Rink. All three traps in the county 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.
“College Park residents should be proud to know that there is a litter trap in existence in their town/city as it’s one of the first communities in the county to have one installed,” McNeill wrote in an email. “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 added.
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 are one of the organization’s 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, as Sherard noted.
Anacostia Riverkeeper is also promoting passage of a bottle bill that would place a point-of-sale deposit fee on plastic, glass and aluminum beverage containers. 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.
Guilford Run, which is now benefiting from its new litter trap, and Paint Branch creek are both tributaries of the Anacostia River. They add to the city’s natural beauty and provide recreational opportunities for city residents and UMD students alike — and we can, in turn, do our part to keep these waterways pristine. Anacostia Riverkeeper offers many opportunities to volunteer and is eager to work with College Park residents. For more information about organization and to explore volunteer opportunities with them, go to anacostiariverkeeper.org.