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.
To help with the growing problem of tire accumulation and improper disposal, the Orange County Landfill, the Orange County Litter Control Committee and StreamSweepers have organized a FREE Tire Recycling Day.
Orange County residents may dispose up to 12 tires at the Orange County Landfill free of charge on Saturday, June 16, 2018, between 8am and 12 noon.
Disposal will be on a first come-first served basis and proof of residency may be required.
Standard car/truck tires (R22.5 size maximum) will be accepted (no commercial or business drop-offs, residential only).
The following businesses are PARTNERS in this event:
The Mattaponi River Clean-up Youth Job Training and Employment Program will offer many benefits to Caroline County including stewardship, job training and environmental awareness for the young adults employed. Removal of trash and an inventory report will enhance the Mattaponi as resource for the community and offer additional opportunities to leverage this resource. StreamSweepers will train 5 local age young adults (18 and over) to clean and inventory 13 miles of the Mattaponi River in Caroline County, VA. The stretch to be cleaned begins at the Rt. 607 crossing at Paige and extends to the Rt. 301 crossing. The proposed project is partially funded by Caroline County, and from a grant from the Luck Foundation. For the project to be completed, we will need to raise an additional $15,000. This figure includes the cost of all supervisory personnel, equipment, and liability insurances and Workers Compensation insurance for all employees. Outreach to landowners may begin as early as January 2018 as access from landowners will need to be secured about every mile or two along the river. For more information please contact us by email or by calling our office at (540)-672-2542.
We hope that residents and business owners as well as other foundations will support this project.
The Mattaponi River is a 103-mile-long tributary of the York River estuary and rises as four streams in Spotsylvania County, each of which is given a shorter piece of the Mattaponi’s name. They are the Mat River and the Ta River which join in Spotsylvania County to form the Matta River; the Po River and the Ni River which join in Caroline County to form the Poni River; and the Matta and Poni Rivers which join in Caroline County to form the Mattaponi River.
From the confluence of its tributaries, the Mattaponi flows generally southeast through Caroline County, where it collects the South River at the southern edge of the Mattaponi Wildlife Management Area. In its lower reaches, it defines the boundary between King William and King and Queen counties. At West Point, it meets the Pamunkey River to form the York River.
With little development or industry on the river, the Mattaponi provides a diverse array of scenery and angling opportunity. Beginning as a small, scenic, non-tidal stream draining much of Caroline County and serving as the border between King and Queen and King William counties, the upper Mattaponi has limited public access. Moving downstream from Zoar State Forest towards West Point the river changes character drastically from a small non-tidal stream to a large tidal river lined by vast expanses of marsh. (courtesy VDGIF)
During the summer of 2016 we uncovered more than 25 sites with trash too large to be floated out in our canoes in the three rivers we cleaned; the Hughes, Rapidan and Robinson Rivers. Thanks to the generous support we received many of these items – culverts, extra heavy tires, storage tanks, dangerous metal objects and more have been removed from the river. We are continuing to make contacts with landowners to gain access to the remaining items to be removed with heavy equipment. We appreciate the many landowners who have cooperated with us so far. We couldn’t do this without you!
Some of this stuff has been in our rivers for decades, rusting, and leaking oil and other substances. Thanks to the many wonderful people who have helped make our rivers cleaner and safer to enjoy, especially the Dominion Energy Volunteers from the Orange service office (pictured above) for bringing in the heavy equipment. It sure does make a difference!
Large Trash Sites 2016 – Hughes, Robinson and Rapidan Rivers
When Jeanine Meerscheidt lost her son Brandon in a tragic climbing accident in Grayson Highlands State Park earlier this year, she also lost a part of herself. She has now found her healing path along the banks of the Rappahannock River. “This is filling the hole that is left behind when you lose a loved one,” explained Jeanine Meerscheidt, still wet from wading through waist-high water and pulling out the trash others so carelessly left behind.In the wake of her son’s death, Meerscheidt came across a booth in Fredericksburg for the StreamSweepers and was immediately drawn in. Hearing about how they hire workers to spend the summer cleaning Virginia’s waterways, she felt she had found a way to pay tribute to her son.
By the end of summer, StreamSweepers will have pulled out 10 to 15 tons of trash, including a few hundred tires, along the Upper Rappahannock.
“I was like, ‘Wow! Okay, this is something I absolutely have to do,’” says Meerscheidt, who was hired to be the On-Water Manager for the organization. Since then she’s spent two months with a handful of other paid employees of StreamSweepers floating downriver in a canoe trying to spot cast-off tires, cans, and golf balls. She and the others don’t hesitate to get their hands dirty pulling or prying them
out of the river bottom for hours on end each day. By the end of summer they will have pulled out 10 to 15 tons of trash, including a few hundred tires, along 20 to 40 miles of the Upper Rappahannock.
By summer’s end, the river will be healthier and Meerscheidt says she too will be better off. The symbiotic improvement is no coincidence. Rather, it is the goal for which the program was designed.
“The overriding mission is healing: healing people and healing nature, one river at a time,” said Michael Collins, executive director of the Center for Natural Capital which runs the program. “Everybody that comes in touch with this seems to connect with it and it sort of creates their own passion within them.”
While most river cleanups are done on a volunteer basis, StreamSweepers is somewhat unique in having paid, trained workers dedicated to the task five days a week throughout the summer. The program is run entirely through private funding from grants and donations, including a $50,000 grant from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation.
The program is run entirely through private funding from grants and donations, including a $50,000 grant from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation.
“The Dominion Energy grant has been very important in our being able to continue this work year after year,” said Project Manager Deb Manzari. “I think it’s been four years now we’ve had support from Dominion and it’s a large part of our budget. It allows us to keep this program going and we are grateful for it.”
Manzari sees the transformation taking place as soon as the initial one-week training is complete and the StreamSweepers find themselves out on the water, connecting with nature and looking out for each other’s safety.
“All of a sudden you get a really great group going and it’s really fun for me to see everybody work together and friendships form and it really feels like a wonderful environment to work in every day,” Manzari said.
For Meerschiedt, it is a literal labor of love. She is achieving her goal of getting comfortable in a canoe and getting in shape through the daily effort on the waterways. Most important, however, is the rehabilitation of both the river and her soul. “I’m in a lot better shape than I was two months ago, emotionally,” she said. “One tire at a time.”
The following series of photos gives you an idea of the effort that it takes to remove some of the trash from our rivers. At the heads of islands in these rivers you will often find a bulwark of downed trees that look alot like a large pile of “pixie sticks”. They catch all kinds of things! Our crew was DETERMINED not to leave this very large piece of trash that was entrenched in one such pile of trees. There are some videos too…showing the sheer joy of our group once the item has been removed…enough said.
Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) and Virginia Outdoor Center (VOC)
We’re excited to be working on the Rappahannock River this year and appreciate all the hard work that Friends of the Rappahannock and the Virginia Outdoor Center have done over the years to care for this river. We hope that our efforts to assess and clean the river will expand upon their good work!
After StreamSweepers spent a day on the Rapidan River, it was time to move on over to the Rappahannock. So who you gonna call? — Friends of the Rappahannock! We had great instruction from Bryan Hoffman and Adam Lynch which made all the difference in readying our staff for their task on the Rappahannock this summer.
Thanks also to FOR’s Woodie Walker and Kathleen Harrigan who have been incredibly supportive of our efforts.
Four years ago StreamSweepers was graciously loaned some boats by VOC for our program and they are still out there floating today! Many thanks to Bill Micks and the entire staff at VOC.
Many thanks to the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation for supporting StreamSweepers! We needed a vehicle and a trailer to transport our Sweepers and pull our canoes. We found a great deal on a used Four Runner and trailer and were able to make the purchase thanks to them.
They also helped us move into the realm of volunteer cleanups. Over the next year we will be hosting cleanups led by volunteer groups in Fauquier, Culpeper and Rappahannock counties to clean the smaller tributaries before the trash reaches the Rappahannock. The picture below is of the Highland School crew who cleaned along the White’s Mill Trail and Cedar Run near Warrenton. If your organization is interested in hosting a cleanup, please contact StreamSweepers Program Manager, Debbie Manzari.
Thanks Northern Piedmont Community Foundation from all of us here!