Cleaning up a local park takes volunteers

Trash including a cooler and basketball litter the bank in Rock Creek Park near the Valley Trail earlier this week. (WTOP/Laurie Cantillo)

WASHINGTON – It’s a team effort to clean up trash from a beautiful, local park.

Take a walk or set up a picnic in Rock Creek Park and visitors would be surprised how much trash gathers along the creek’s water-line.

Tennis Balls, Styrofoam cups, plastic bottles, even basketballs and plastic bags were mixed in with tree limbs and other storm debris near Rock Creek picnic area No. 10 Wednesday.

“If you’ve never done a clean up, you might be thinking ‘Eewww’,” says Clara Alias with the Alice Ferguson Foundation, which organizes and sponsors waterway clean-ups in the park.

Trash is collected by running clubs, girl scouts, canoeing groups and the C&O Canal Association among others. In the past decade, volunteers have removed from the Rock Creek watershed nearly half a million pounds of trash.

“You feel great afterwards because you can actually look back and see a place that had been trashed before look so beautiful afterwards,” Alias says.

The Rock Creek Park Conservancy also participates in a large number of cleanups, she says.

Street trash that is washed into storm drains upstream is the most common source of the litter.

The foundation also teamed up with National Geographic to create a cleanup visualization tool. Volunteers can make their own map and graph their own cleanup results or download the foundation’s data.

To see the map of Rock Creek Park cleanup efforts, click here.

For more information visit

WTOP’s Kristi King and Laurie Cantillo contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on Facebook.

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