HMNs Participate in Middle River Cleanup

Most every August, the Friends of the Middle River (FOMR) organize a week of trash removal from different segments of the Middle River as it runs through Augusta County. Members of the Headwaters Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists are always invited to participate and earn volunteer service credit hours under the activity: “Trash Cleanups: Waterway Cleanup.” You can learn much more about FOMR’s river cleanups HERE.

This year twelve teams went out from August 21-29 encountering river conditions conducive to finding tons of trash including many dozens of tires.

Below are some photos from and personal insights of the week’s effort from a few of the HMN participants.

Team River Pickers
from Jeanine Botkin, Cohort VII

Team River Pickers went out on Saturday, August 21.

In this photo (above) are Marion Bittinger, John Peterson, and Pam Bull after cleaning the river between the bridge at Windswept Lane and a farm on Bailey Road (2 miles of river).

Team River Muckers
from John Bauman, Cohort VI

We had a seven-person team called “River Muckers,” and boy, were we ever mucked up when all was said and done. We spent 4 1/2 hours on the river on August the 24th and pulled a total of 30 tires out. Yes, 30 tires, three tubes, several bags of small trash, and a foam sofa mattress that took about 98% of the strength of three of us to get it up over the boat gunnels. About a mile and a half down the river, we came across a large piece of styrofoam that was so big it would have taken up half of a canoe had we loaded it, so we hooked it to a tow line and towed it down the river. Near the end, when all the boats were near maximum, and a big tire was mucked out of the river, we put it on top of the styrofoam and towed it to the take-out. It was a most rewarding day of floating the river, sighting some wildlife that we don’t normally see, and best of all, sharing the day with others who value our natural resources and care enough to protect them šŸ™‚

Team Shenandoah Campers
from Carl Droms, Cohort II

Team Shenandoah Campers went out on Wednesday, August 25.

In the above photo, Team Shenandoah Campers are from R to L: Randy, Carl, Adrie, Greg and Mary with big on-land support from Antonio, Stanley, Dave and Team Leader Josh.

Five (in-the-water) members of Team Shenandoah Campers put in along Walnut Grove Dr and got busy scanning the river for trash. It didn’t take long. Less than 500 feet from our starting point, we encountered two pickup truck cargo boxes that appeared to have been dumped off the Limestone Rd bridge. Rather than haul them along with us, we brought them back to the starting point. After that, things quieted down considerably. We found the usual complement of tires, bottles and cans, fishing line, toys and baby diapers, and a couple of cinder blocks. The water was low enough that we spent a good bit of our time dragging the boats over the cobbles. By the time we got to Bald Rock, not even halfway to the Shenandoah Valley Campground, our intended endpoint, it was past our estimated finish time, so we decided to call it quits. We were met there by a land-based crew that had wrestled a discarded sofa bed up the bank. Besides the good feeling of having left the river cleaner than we found it, it was the perfect place to spend an otherwise hot and steamy late August day.

Some final “estimated” numbers from Friends of the Middle River’s Watershed Administrator Kate Guenther, Cohort I, on the week’s work: “It looks like we had 91 volunteers, cleaned 25 miles, filled a 20 cubic yard dumpster and also had 136 tires removed from the river!”