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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.


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.


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 Pls. send cover letter/resume to Michael Collins @ or call 540-672-2542 for more information.

StreamSweepers Receive National Recognition

Beth StreamSweepers

On Sunday, September 14th at the American Canoe Association Paddling Summit, the StreamSweepers program was presented the “Sanctioned Event of the Year” award. Beth Seale, On-Water-Manager for StreamSweepers traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan to accept this national award on behalf of StreamSweepers and the Center for Natural Capital.