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PHOTOS: Volunteers give Fairfax Co. park a spring cleaning

A Barbie doll head, a drone and plastic bottles.

Those are just some of the things volunteers in the annual Fairfax County Watershed Cleanup at Huntley Meadows in Alexandria, Virginia, found in and alongside a stream bed on Saturday.

Girl Scout Troops from around the region took part in the joint effort put together by the Nature Conservancy and the Fairfax County Park Authority.

For the month of April, volunteers will fan out across the county’s parks to do their part to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Nature Conservancy’s Katy Densmore said the efforts go a long way toward cleaning up the bay. “Every piece of trash that blows off a street and into the park blows into a stream, runs down the stream into a river, runs down a river into the bay, and eventually, that’s where all of our plastic in the ocean comes from, too,” Densmore said.

More than 1,200 volunteers signed up to help clean up 21 parks across Northern Virginia. “It’s a great start to Earth Month!” Densmore said.

Becky Cousins is a Girl Scout Troop leader whose members come from Springfield, Virginia. “I’ve been doing Girl Scout Troop activities for years and this is by far, my favorite.” Cousins said the cleanup is a great way for the scouts to put into practice one of the principles of outdoor stewardship: “Leave no trace.” And, it’s a chance for the girls to enjoy the outdoors.

Scout troop member 7-year-old Jessie Gibson said she found, “Lots and lots of trash,” Including broken glass and tiles in an area outside the park. Cousins said it looked like someone had dumped construction materials.

Eleven-year old-Nicole Cousins, Becky Cousins’ daughter, enjoyed the morning, but noted that “ponds” had formed inside her boots as she waded into the streambed to pluck out trash. She recommends people recycle instead of tossing their trash outside.

“It’s just a separate bin from the trash; it’s not that hard,” Nicole said.

Cousins estimated the group picked up between eight and 10 big bags of trash while they were out working along stream beds adjacent to Huntley Meadows Park.

Afterward, the girls got a chance to tour the park, discovering frogs sitting in a pool of water inside a hollow tree stump. “Frogs in a hot tub!” exclaimed one of the girls. They spotted geese napping on their nest, tadpoles swimming in shallow water under the park’s boardwalks and plenty of birds flitting from branch to branch in the tall trees overhead.

Cleanups are taking place across the region this month. For more information, check out the Nature Conservancy’s website.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan reported from Alexandria, Virginia.

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