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Here is Where our Hope for StreamSweepers 2016 Begins

2015 Crewmembers Celebrating Rapidan Completion!
2015 Crewmembers Celebrating Rapidan Completion!

In 2015 StreamSweepers finished the promise begun 3 years ago to train and employ dozens of local young adults to sweep up garbage from the historic Rapidan River – all the way from Shenandoah National Park to Fredericksburg. This unprecedented achievement is the first time a corps of local high school and college students has comprehensively cleaned and assessed the health of an entire river valley in Virginia history.  These Sweepers are paid and insured employees and not volunteers . Their salaries are paid by “customers” or riverside landowners and donors that care about meaningful young adult employment opportunities and their local rivers.

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StreamSweepers 2015 Crew
As we prepare to store our boats and equipment for winter, we’ve dreamed of what might lie ahead for the 2016 season.  After years of river work, we now know that ongoing maintenance is needed because as unbelievable as it sounds, people continue to use our rivers as a dump.  Therefore, we propose to transition to river maintenance, with Sweepers completing “light cleaning” of the 100 miles of both rivers in their entirety– in just one season! This is in contrast to the “deep cleaning” of past years, where we were only able to finish 40 miles in a season.  Maintenance is also needed because we now know that tires and other trash leach harmful chemicals and our rivers are drinking water sources for thousands of Virginians. We also hope to tackle the beautiful Hughes River (a Virginia Scenic River) from its origins at Old Rag Mountain in Rappahannock County to its confluence with the Hazel River in Culpeper County.

Please consider supporting our river restoration job corps program by making a tax deductible donation (online link below or by check).   StreamSweepers is a program of the Center for Natural Capital, a 501 c-3 charitable organization in Orange, Virginia. And finally, we can never say enough how grateful we are to all the Supporters from past years that make this work possible.

Thanks from StreamSweepers Crew!
Thanks from StreamSweepers Crew!

What It Takes

This summer was another wonderful opportunity to witness a group of dedicated and amazing young adults working to complete the efforts started by another amazing group three years ago.  By the end of the 2015 summer season the entire Rapidan River had been assessed to determine bank characteristics, buffer quality, erosion, tree canopy and more.  In addition, a thorough cleaning of the entire river was completed.  This accomplishment was only possible with the cooperation and partnership of many individuals.

We invited all our supporters to celebrate this combined achievement at The Arts Center In Orange on the evening of September 17.   A special presentation of an autographed bowling ball (removed from the river by a Sweeper) was made to the Germanna Foundation for their willingness to assist on numerous occasions.  You will find the slide show presented at this event below.  You’ll notice at the end of the presentation that there are 6 pages of names of individuals that have supported the program over the last three years -THANK YOU!

 

Mac at Arts Center

StreamSweeper Mac Klackle (center) speaking about his experience during summer 2015 at year end celebration at The Arts Center In Orange pictured with watershed supporters.  (Photo courtesy of Jeff Poole of The Orange County Review)

Staff of Germanna Foundation and StreamSweepers 2015 Crew, Locust Grove, VA

Staff of Germanna Foundation and StreamSweepers 2015 Crew, Locust Grove, VA

Below is a list of the landowners who granted access to their property this summer as well as a list of a folks who lent exceptional program support this year.

Landowners – RA Lillard, Rodney Lillard, John Whiteside, CR Tanner, Bruce and Ann Bowman, Todd Sansom, Doug and Bonnie Coffey, Laneway Farms, Taylor White, Barbara Miller, Beth Seale, Randy Merrick, Adrianne Foshay, Belair Farms, Joan Ducker, Ronnie Sexton, Germanna Foundation, Wilderness Shores, Rapidan Service Authority and Friends of the Rappahannock

Beth Seale, American Canoe Association (ACA) Instructor and Owner of Rapidan River Kayak Company

Dr. Randy Merrick, Merrick Family Medicine and Laser Therapy

Ruth Douglas, Master Naturalist and member of Virginia Native Plant Society and Blue Ridge PRISM

John James, ASLA – John James Landscape Architect 

Program SupportersColeman Andrews responded to our mid-summer plea for boats with the donation of “Proud Mary”.  Rhonda from the Shelby Kwik Mart in Rochelle, VA (helped us out with a gas emergency). The Houck’s of Belair Farm (which became a second home for trash removal operations).  Baker’s Store.  Rod and Colin Bowers who helped our fleet grow. Thunder Lane of Culpeper for a boat donation.  And we are very grateful for the mid-summer infusion of additional program dollars by an anonymous donor to purchase boats.  We thank all of you who have supported us this season and over the past three years!

Photos of two new additions to the StreamSweepers fleet.

Proud Mary

Youth Visions Canoe Photo

Hometown Heroes

Help From Our Friends Results in Removal of a Tire Weighing 2100 Pounds

In mid-July as the StreamSweepers crew was moving down the Rapidan River in the area near Raccoon Ford they discovered a tire like they had never seen before.  On first glance it looked much like the large tractor tires they routinely find, but on further inspection and digging, it became apparent that this tire was over 6 feet in diameter and about three feet wide and mostly submerged in unyielding sediment and heavy muck.  After spending about a half hour sizing up the situation and knowing that there was a lot more river to cover that day the StreamSweepers crew knew that this tire would have to be revisited.  A plan was developed and a day was scheduled to go after the big tire.  Needless to say after 5 hours of work with 5 people the crew was only  able to get it to budge about an inch.

Determined to have this tire removed from the river, the crew began to consider who they knew that might have the proper equipment to get the job done.  StreamSweepers called on Dominion Energy as their Foundation has been a supporter of the program.  Their construction crew based in Orange was eager to help!  Below are some photos and videos of their skilled efforts which resulted in a big clean up for the Rapidan.   We’re grateful for the can-do spirit of this group who worked voluntarily to get the job done!

Dominion Crew based in Orange Helps StreamSweepers
Dominion Crew based in Orange Helps StreamSweepers Crew
Heavy Equipment and Willing Partners Make a Difference
Heavy Equipment and Willing Partners Make a Difference

 

 

StreamSweepers Crew Thanks You!
StreamSweepers Crew Thanks You!

 

 

 

 

StreamSweepers Complete Historic Assessment and Cleaning of Entire Rapidan River

Today, the 2015 StreamSweepers completed the first comprehensive assessment and cleaning of entire major river valley in Virginia. This vision, conceived by a small group of residents from Orange, VA to assess and clean the entire Rapidan River from Shenandoah National Park to Fredericksburg, was made possible only through the generous support of Rapidan and Robinson River Landowners and StreamSweepers Supporters throughout Virginia. After 100 miles of work spanning three years, Sweepers came to the end of their journey, at the confluence of the Rapidan and Rappahannock Rivers.

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In this year alone, 11 area college and upper high school students were employed full time during the summer to assess the condition of the river valley and sweep junk from the river’s bed and banks. Over $13,000 in training and fieldwork payroll was provided to these young men and women.

In the weeks ahead, information on the health of the Rapidan River Valley will be published and presented to landowners and other supporters of this job corps program.

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Despite Rain, Heat, and Blackflies, Sweepers Nearly Halfway to Goal of Completing Rapidan River

No matter the effort, it’s always the last 10% that is the back breaker. This year has been the toughest we’ve ever had. Perhaps its because we’re so spread out this season, from the boldery headwaters to the wide rock gardens of the confluence, we are dealing with more logistical and weather difficulties than ever before. At times it’s just one foot in front of the other, and after months, one day we will end up at the glorious Rappahannock.

Sweepers Need More Used Boats to Get Tires Out of Lower Rapidan

Boat Fundraising Image FINAL croppedDear StreamSweeper Supporter, (from email blast sent out evening 6/29….)

We started our year with a great group of StreamSweepers (pictured below) who completed a week long training regimen for ecological assessment, canoe safety, invasive species identification, global positioning systems (GPS), entrepreneurship and risk management. They have finished their ecological assessment from the Upper Rapidan at Shenandoah National Park all the way to Raccoon Ford.

We need your help!  During our initial reconnaissance we have found an unusual amount of tire trash – over 120 tires in a 4.5 mile stretch (see photo below). While we did find this same kind of quantity on the Robinson last year, the difference is that this year the scale of garbage/linear mile is larger and most importantly, we have been unable to get convenient landowner access. This means we have to float canoes full of tires repeatedly down miles of river just to get them out at a distant access point. We’re concerned that we will not be able to get the job done this summer using this method.
An alternative is to create a flotilla with more boats than we currently have in our fleet, put the June and July crews together, and float in mass a dozen or so boats down the river at a time. This should substantially reduce the number of repeat trips we need to make down the same section of river.

Right now we have 7 canoes and we need 5 more. The best boats are 15’-17’ Old Towns. Used boats on Craigslist usually go for $300-$500 and up. We are seeking either donations of used boats or financial contributions to secure boats. In return, we’re offering to personalize the boat in honor of the donor or a loved one (see photo above), but we can also get creative. How about a “Tire Tyrant” canoe as our Sweepers are so eager to get this trash removed!!!

Some ask, “Why tires in the river are a problem?” The reason is they contain toxic metals and compounds such as styrene butadiene, a carcinogen and suspected endocrine disruptor.

We appreciate the past support from our donors which has allowed us to continue this important program. Because StreamSweepers’ cost of business is supported through landowner service charges and general philanthropy from individuals, foundations, and companies, we reduce our need for solicitation. However, thus far this year, the portion of costs covered by riverside landowner service charges is well below last year’s 50% cost contribution.  This means our resources are limited for additional equipment purchases.

We were hoping to start Sweeping the first few miles of the lower part of the Rapidan this week, but since we don’t have the boats we need, for the next few days, we’re going to jump back up to the area of the Route 29 bridge to remove hundreds of feet of plastic collapsible hose.

Thanks for taking time to read this message.  Tax deductible donations are accepted by mail at the address below or by clicking here on our secure fundraising platform or by visiting our website.  If you would like to donate an entire boat and have it named, please reply to this email.  

Best regards,
Buzz, Debbie, Mike and the entire StreamSweeper Crew!

Sweepers Remove Large Tank from Robinson River

During the 2014 season, Sweepers found several large tanks on area rivers too large to be extracted with boats (see below).

IMG_0422After months of planning and waiting for the ground to freeze, on Saturday, January 10, Sweepers with Partner Contour Construction, LLC (Mark, Jamie on excavator, Lee on drove dump truck, and Danny) mobilized at dawn to begin extraction of a very large (~4000 gallon) tank from the Robinson.

Tank Removal from Robinson 001As usual, things did not go exactly according to plans. With lots of ingenuity and hard work, shortly before midday, the last section of tank was hauled off the property leaving the bank in much improved condition.

Tank Removal from Robinson 012Thanks to landowners Tom and Dawn Miller and to River Stewards Mark and Ann Kington for helping to make this extraction possible.

The short video below shows the effort that went into removal. Turns out the tank was pitted on the bottom and filled with sediment.

StreamSweepers Seeks Landowner Outreach Manager

StreamSweepers Landowner Outreach Manager – StreamSweepers is a nationally recognized river maintenance service staffed by young adults from Virginia. StreamSweepers is a workforce development program of the Center for Natural Capital, a growing non-profit company using business to heal nature. Center employees work within a horizontal structure, equally sharing the risks and rewards of their entrepreneurial journey. We’re looking for someone with passion for building markets to restore nature and for the day to day work of enrolling riverside landowners in the Sweeping and Assessment of their frontage. This is a salaried position beginning immediately and likely lasting into spring. The geographic area is the Central Virginia Piedmont. Learn more at www.streamsweepers.org. Pls. send cover letter/resume to Michael Collins @ mike@naturalcapital.us or call 540-672-2542 for more information.