Thanks to Natural Capital Board Member Superstar Harriet Giles for organizing volunteer StreamSweepers to tackle Hazel River Assessment beginning the Summer of 2019. With a rapid mini-fundraising campaign for new Garmin GPS units successfully under their belts and training on StreamSweepers ecological assessment protocol used on hundreds of miles of other Virginia rivers under their belt, this dedicated group of landowners has agreed to be the first volunteers to attempt this work. In years past, StreamSweepers has always used paid Sweeper staff to complete this work.
StreamSweepers will be hiring Program Managers, On-water Managers, and Sweeping Staff next year. Our new Shenandoah Valley Satellite Office will need a Middle River Comprehensive Cleanup Program Manager, On-water Manager, and Sweeping Staff. The Clinch River Satellite Office will need an On-water Manager and Sweepers. The Middle River crew will be working in the vicinity of Verona and the Clinch River crew will be working in the vicinity of St. Paul. We will post more information about these positions in early 2019.
After 2 years of assessment of the Clinch River (St. Paul, VA) and nearly a year of river cleanup concept discussions with the Friends of the Middle River (Staunton, VA), StreamSweepers has the green light to proceed with comprehensive cleanup in Partnership with a host of area conservation and social organizations and agencies. Fundraising and short range planning for our Clinch and Shenandoah Rivers Cleanup Campaigns is now underway. The Clinch River program will take several years and will be the largest industrial river cleanup in our history and comes on the heels of completion of our Rappahannock Rivers Cleanup Campaign (2012-2018) this year. If you would like to help, please contact the Center at 540-7672-2542. And, if you would like to donate to these efforts, please find our 2019 Campaign button on our website.
StreamSweepers is partnering with Central Virginia social services organizations and equipment contractors to help suburban and rural landowners clean up their properties from flood damage. The program will train and employ local young adults (age 18 and above) in flood related disaster relief to remove flood debris in flood damaged properties along rivers and streams. Depending on the scale of the cleanup, Sweepers will be paired with local equipment contractors to help remove debris. For some types of cleanup, payments may be a tax deductable contribution.
Sweepers that cleaned the Rappahannock and Mattaponi Rivers this summer will be on call to continue their work as flood relief staff in the coming weeks. StreamSweepers also is looking for more staff to train and hire from the counties of Orange, Louisa, Fluvanna, Spotsylvania, Albemarle, Greene, Madison, Culpeper, Fauquier, and Rappahannock. Landowners interested in assistance should contact Lisa Dornon or Michael Collins at 540-672-2542 to schedule immediate assistance in preparation for Hurricane Florence. Young adults from Central Virginia should also contact us to get a job you will never forget.
The weather is cooperating and we have moved over to the Mattaponi River in Caroline County. Assessments are nearly complete and trash removed from a four mile section has already been delivered to the collection site. The crew is patiently moving along the river in a section below the Milford DGIF boat launch which is littered with downed trees. We appreciate the assistance we’ve received from local government, Luck Stone and landowners who provided us with information and access. Look for another update early next week!
As we near completion of the assessment and trash inventory phase of the project we are astonished at the amount of trash in the Clinch River near the Swords Creek area. According to Project Manager, Maddie Gordon, “there are thousands of tires and other trash in less than a 6 mile stretch.”
The Clinch River cleanup will be much different than any previous clean up effort StreamSweepers has completed. We will need additional partners and new protocols to move this project into an industrial scale cleanup. While we know this will require a tremendous amount of effort and we believe it is both possible and necessary! The photos speak for themselves.
After the classroom portion of our training week, we waited a few days for the Rappahannock to recede after it’s first flood event this summer for our on-water training provided by Nick Wolfe of Friends of the Rappahannock and the Virginia Outdoor Center. The river was just at it’s “floatable” limit so needless to say we got in some good training time.
Below are a few photos of the week leading up to our on-water training day and they include Wilderness First Aid by MEDIC Matt Rosesfsky of SOLOWFA and Invasive Species Identification by Ruth Douglas and MaryLee, affiliated with the Blue Ridge Prism and the VA Native Plant Society.
We’re grateful to all those that help train our crew every year!
It was a resounding success, and over the course of the four-hour event, 135 vehicles visited and dropped off more than 1330 tires. These tires will be disposed of responsibly, with as many being recycled as possible. Potential future uses include road surface material, arena footing material, and tire derived fuel for industrial boilers, among other possibilities.
The backing of the local community made the event a success, and we especially appreciate the partners and sponsors whose financial support made the event possible. These include partners: Orange/Gordonsville Pharmacy, University Tire & Auto, EZ Performance Center, as well as sponsors: American Woodmark, MPS, Virginia Tractor, Clore’s Automotive, Edward Jones-Jeff Earnhardt, Grelen Nursery, Inn at Westwood Farm, Inn at Willow Grove, Jack Samuels Realty, Mason Insurance Agency, Orange Madison COOP, Orange Tire Inc., Pro Collision Center, Purcell Custom Firearms Shop, and The Lightwell/Willow Spring Brewery/Beggars Banquet. The event was also supported by a Virginia Department of Environmental Quality grant.
We would also like to thank the Landfill staff for their gracious logistical support and for hosting the event and the Orange County Litter Control Committee for logistical and financial support.
We appreciate those that volunteered, supported, and attended this event and hope that the collection of these tires will help create a cleaner Orange County. While we hope to hold the event again, the ability to host it is based on sponsorship and grant support, so we advise that residents do not collect tires on their property in anticipation of another amnesty day. The disposal fee at the landfill is just $2.50 per tire (for the first ten), and prompt disposal helps prevent the negative effects of tire collection, such as mosquito breeding.