Today I participated in an Earth Day cleanup, sponsored by the Anacostia Watershed Society and the Earth Conservation Corps. The cleanup was conducted throughout the Anacostia Watershed. I was among the 200 volunteers who worked on lower Kingman Island.
Kingman and Heritage Islands were both created from dredge spoil when the Anacostia River was dredged in the early twentieth century. In the late 1990s, residents stopped an attempt to build a large amusement park on the two islands. At that time, the District agreed to restore the islands as a nature preserve and build an environmental education center on lower Kingman. (See the master plan, tree groves project, and AWC Kingman Island page.)
At the end of the cleanup, ECC leaders announced that volunteers had collected 321 bags of trash. That figure probably did not include the corroded chairs, metal pipes, bricks, and various car parts that were lined up for removal. The contents of my two trash bags consisted mostly of styrofoam objects. They were a lot of coffee cups, with some fast food containers and plates. Then of course there were smaller helpings of bottles and aerosol cans. (A few areas had lots of plastic bottles, but I was not in one of them.)
One area where I worked was loaded with garlic mustard. In fact I came across several areas infested with the noxious stuff as I walked up and down the island. I was tempted to work on removing that instead of the trash, but there was far too much for one person - even in that relatively small area.
As I picked up trash and debris, I noted many birds around me. Northern cardinals, white-throated sparrows, and American goldfinches were singing with full voices up and down both islands. A Caspian tern flew upstream along the river at the beginning of the morning; as the cleanup ended, a common yellowthroat was singing near the bridge on lower Kingman. Being close to the ground made me more attentive to mollusks (or ex-mollusks), pictured at left. One snail shell in particular was quite beautiful. The table below shows the animals I noted in the course of the day.
|Great Blue Heron||1|
|Northern Rough-winged Swallow||2|
|Gastropod sp. #1||1|
|Ventridens ligera (?) *||4|
|Eastern Painted Turtle||2|
* Thanks to Aydin for suggesting an identification.
This weekend is the start of National Wildlife Week. Some bloggers are participating in the first annual Blogger BioBlitz and posting photos to the NWW Flickr Group in honor of the occasion.
Update: See the Washington Post for coverage of Saturday's cleanup at other locations. The article included this excerpt:
One crew from Washington Community Fellowship Church on Capitol Hill and the city's Cornell Club worked on a section of the river under the New York Avenue bridge. They found an old chair, plastic toys and a seemingly lifetime supply of 7-Eleven cups and McDonald's containers.I can understand that feeling.
"The amount of Styrofoam was amazing," said Cornell Club member Cheryl Martson. "I will never use Styrofoam again."