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International Coastal Cleanup

ICC photo 2


Well, we weren’t coastal or inter­na­tional, but we were out there. As part of this world-wide effort, some great Howard County vol­un­teers spent a few hours on a Sat­ur­day morn­ing clean­ing up a stream and the stream banks around it.

One inter­est­ing thing about the Inter­na­tional Coastal Cleanup (ICC) is the data col­lec­tion. Usu­ally when we do our Howard County cleanups we track the weight of trash and recy­cling and the num­ber of vol­un­teers and their hours. This works for us and is pretty effi­cient and use­ful. The ICC (the cleanup, not the road) pro­vides clip­boards and data cards for track­ing very spe­cific infor­ma­tion such as the num­ber of cig­a­rette butts. Sigh. Believe me, it is dif­fi­cult to carry a trash bag, sep­a­rate trash from recy­cling, and carry a clip­board. It’s just not that practical.

How­ever, get­ting over my bad atti­tude, it is inter­est­ing and raises your aware­ness about what you are actu­ally look­ing at and pick­ing up. The most unusual thing we took out of our envi­ron­ment this time was a great-looking lawn mower. We removed 2 plas­tic Adiron­dack chairs, and one of the vol­un­teers actu­ally took one home to keep. Side ben­e­fit of volunteering!

But I digress. We did our best to track the data the ICC way. Our biggest items were cig­a­rette butts and plas­tic bags. The over­all results of the world-wide cleanup are pretty amaz­ing – From the Ocean Conservancy’s web­site – “By under­stand­ing what is out there, we can work together on solu­tions. For instance, each year vol­un­teers col­lect more than a mil­lion bev­er­age bot­tles from beaches, shore­lines, and under­wa­ter in just one day.”

We’re done with local cleanups for 2012, but will be back for more in the Spring of 2013. Hope to see you out there. Please con­tact me if you have a group that would be inter­ested, or if you just want to be added to the email list. Many thanks to the vol­un­teers and to Sue Muller, nat­u­ral­ist extra­or­di­naire with Howard County Recre­ation and Parks. We planned and worked the 2012 cleanups together.

For more infor­ma­tion on the ICC, check out the Ocean Conservancy’s web­site. They have a lot of great pro­grams putting all they’ve got into sav­ing our oceans.

Elissa Rei­neck

Octo­ber 2012

JHU APL Cleans Up

JHU APL group shot

The last week in Octo­ber, a group from the John’s Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity Applied Physics Lab (JHU APL) met in Sav­age to clean up trash. No, they weren’t in trou­ble and being pun­ished. They actu­ally vol­un­teered to do this.

It was a cool but beau­ti­ful sunny day. We met at the entrance to the Sav­age Mill Trail then cleaned up an area across the street along the river. The group worked very hard and picked up 245 pounds of trash and 110 pounds of recy­cling. Our won­der­ful Recre­ation and Parks staff hauled it all away and pro­vided the trash bags.

JHU APL has done this cleanup for many years. It was orig­i­nally started by Jeanne Pres­ley, who cared about the Sav­age Mill park and wanted the com­pany to do some­thing for the com­mu­nity. Jeanne trag­i­cally died of can­cer, and her co-workers at APL con­tinue with the project to honor her mem­ory. They talked about her dur­ing the cleanup last week, say­ing that she would have been proud.

As part of their JHU APL Cares Day, the vol­un­teers meet on a Fri­day after­noon each Fall and work with the County on a cleanup around the Sav­age Park area. Over the years we have var­ied the cleanup so that it cov­ered the trail itself and other County prop­erty nearby. It all helps keep trash and pol­lu­tion out of our environment.

Dur­ing the after­noon we spot­ted a red fox, wood­peck­ers, a North­ern brown snake and a toad. The snake pic­ture has now been included in a state-wide sur­vey called the Herp Atlas.

The employ­ees worked together and got to know each other bet­ter out­side of the office set­ting. After they were done, they went out to a restau­rant together. Great team build­ing and a bit of fun. Hey wait, why wasn’t I invited? Just kidding.

If any of you know of a com­pany that wants to do a sim­i­lar thing, maybe next Spring for Earth Day, email me (ereineck@howardcountymd.gov) and we can plan something.

Thanks so much JHU APL!

Elissa Rei­neck
Envi­ron­men­tal Vol­un­teer Coordinator
Novem­ber 2011

Hot Tire Haulin’

tire cleanup 8-11

The fore­cast called for 97 degrees by 11 a.m. — ugh. The hottest day of the year, and what was on my agenda? Haul­ing tires out of a river with vol­un­teers. Well, quite a bit of plan­ning had gone into it, so what else was there to do but pack a lot of water and get out there?

Yes, it was the hottest day of the sum­mer, the day we could have had a black­out caused by heat. But Fri­day, July 22, turned out to be a great day because I was lucky enough to spend the morn­ing with a fun and ded­i­cated group of peo­ple and work with them to clean up a sec­tion of Howard County. There were about 100 teens and adult lead­ers from the local Youth Group from the Church of Jesus Christ of Lat­ter Day Saints.

This youth group had a choice of other vol­un­teer projects, but they were excited about clean­ing up the envi­ron­ment. And clean they did. They pulled 83 tires and an addi­tional trailer of trash, mostly auto­mo­tive, out of the water and banks of a sec­tion of the Dorsey Run River run­ning through Jes­sup. They did a great job. Extra thanks go out to Janet Yarn who brought the project to the youth group and did a fan­tas­tic job orga­niz­ing such a large group. Sorry about those spi­der webs, Janet! Our won­der­ful staff at Recre­ation and Parks pro­vided the trucks and hauled away the tires for recycling.

This was our sec­ond attempt to get the mess out of the river. Our first was ear­lier this year, in April, dur­ing a region-wide project called Project Clean Stream. It was a dif­fer­ent group of vol­un­teers, and we ran out of time, energy and truck space to get the whole mess cleaned up.

There was a very unusual amount of tires and auto trash at this site, and it begs the ques­tion of where it is all com­ing from. Cur­rently, the Mary­land Depart­ment of the Envi­ron­ment is inves­ti­gat­ing it, and I hope that there will be some action taken. It is just not right to dump this stuff and even worse to get away with it. Who knows how much it would have cost to pay some­one to do the work these vol­un­teers did.

The next stream cleanup we have planned is com­ing up on Sat­ur­day, Sep­tem­ber 17, 2011. We’re going to a dif­fer­ent site, still being cho­sen, but it will be in Howard County. The effort is part of the Inter­na­tional Coastal Cleanup. Howard County isn’t exactly “coastal,” but trash in our streams will end up there, so it all helps. I don’t expect any­thing as hard as the tires. There may be a few, but it will prob­a­bly be more of your reg­u­lar trash, bot­tles and cans, etc. Please email me at ereineck@howardcountymd.gov or call 410−313−1175 if you are inter­ested in vol­un­teer­ing for that event. I’m going out on a limb here and guar­an­tee­ing that the weather will be cooler.

If you haven’t tried this type of thing yet, you might not believe me, but it’s actu­ally fun. Not to men­tion reward­ing in that warm fuzzy feel­ing kind of way.

Thanks again LDS Youth Group! You were amaz­ing and you really made a dif­fer­ence out there this summer.

Elissa Rei­neck

OES staff
August 2011

Get Your Name In Lights — Well, Not Really

But you can get your name or your groups’ name on a pretty sign by the road. How? Adopt-A-Road in Howard County. This is a great pro­gram run by the County’s High­ways Division.

How does it work? Basi­cally, a group of vol­un­teers, or some­times just one amaz­ing per­son, selects a piece of County road that is deemed safe by High­ways, and picks up lit­ter there at least 4 times a year. High­ways pro­vides portable safety warn­ing signs, safety vests, and plas­tic bags. They will also pick up the full bags when the cleanup is over. Sim­ply let them know ahead of time when you will be out there. Why would any­one want to do this? Well, here’s an excerpt from the Pub­lic Works’ website:

Howard County Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing the cit­i­zens of Howard County with a clean and envi­ron­men­tally safe com­mu­nity. Street sweep­ing is per­formed on most county roads four times a year. The Bureau of High­ways road crews con­sis­tently travel through­out the county clean­ing up debris on county roads. How­ever, they need help.

Vol­un­teers are needed to mon­i­tor and pick up lit­ter and other debris thrown onto our road­ways by care­less or irre­spon­si­ble cit­i­zens. By vol­un­teer­ing to pick up lit­ter at least four times a year on a selected road, you can make a tremen­dous impact on the appear­ance of your neigh­bor­hood, com­mu­nity and Howard County. Howard County needs your help! Lit­ter among our road­ways is becom­ing a BIG prob­lem. Hun­dreds of Howard County cit­i­zens are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence by “adopt­ing” a county road, help­ing to main­tain a clean envi­ron­ment and strengthen pride in our community.”

Maybe it’s a lit­tle early to be think­ing about doing projects out­side, but those warm spring days will be here soon (hope­fully!) and it would be great to get some new Adopt-A-Road appli­ca­tions going. When March rolls around we’ll all notice it more. When that snow melts and the wind picks up, there will be lots of trash on the sides of the roads and it is all dis­gust­ing to look at. It is very hard to under­stand how peo­ple can still be lit­ter­ing. Some­times those plas­tic bags do fly away from us in the park­ing lots, but to delib­er­ately throw some­thing out of your car win­dow? That is just unbe­liev­able. Any­way, it is a shame that we even need a pro­gram like this, but I hope that some new folks will sign up this year. Get­ting out and clean­ing up with a group of friends can actu­ally by fun, and not just for trash geeks like me. Try it! Get your name on a sign! We’d all be so grateful.

If you would like more infor­ma­tion, please email me at ereienck@howardcountymd.gov. I would be happy to help you get started or answer any ques­tions. Or con­tact the High­ways divi­sion directly. The Adopt-A-Road pro­gram coor­di­na­tor can help you choose a road and can check if the one you want is avail­able. The phone num­ber there is 410−313−7472. Email is publicworks@co.ho.md.us.

The Adopt-A-Road web­site has more details and the appli­ca­tion form.

Elissa Rei­neck, Envi­ron­men­tal Vol­un­teer Coordinator

Green Tip

Drive efficiently.At 45mph and above, save gas by rolling your windows up