UPPER MARLBORO, MD – More than 350 volunteers participated in the annual Patuxent River trash clean-ups throughout the watershed this spring, resulting in the collection and removal of almost four tons of trash. The trash clean-ups raise awareness of the predicament of the Patuxent River and encourage greater advocacy for the river. Unusual items collected and removed from the river this year included folding chairs, a tractor tire, a couch, a propane tank and an old VCR.
The clean-ups, which occurred on March 28, April 4, April 11 and April 18, were sponsored by local governments and regional organizations, including the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, Howard County, the City of Laurel, the City of Bowie, Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, Patuxent River Refuge, Black Swamp Creek Land Trust, the Chesapeake Paddlers Association and Greater Baltimore Canoe Club, Friends of Myrtle Point Park, The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Izaak Walton League, Trout Unlimited, St. Vincent Palotti High School and the Patuxent River Civic Association.
The Patuxent River is the longest river running entirely through Maryland. Its watershed extends into seven counties (Montgomery, Prince George’s, Howard, Anne Arundel, Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s) and five municipalities including two of Maryland’s largest cities, Laurel and Bowie. The river suffers from poor water quality and losses to fish and shellfish. Nonprofit organizations, religious institutions, businesses and government all are taking actions to improve the health of the Patuxent River.
Patuxent Riverkeeper, a nonprofit watershed advocacy organization affiliated with the Waterkeeper Alliance, identified clean-up days, recruited site leaders, enlisted the support of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and provided support to ensure there were sufficient supplies and volunteers for the clean-ups. The Patuxent River Commission, which facilitates local and state implementation of the Patuxent River Policy Plan, assisted with coordination and raising public awareness.