- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2002

Park rangers were "talkin' trash" and collecting it yesterday from the Anacostia River to help educate students from the District and Prince George's County.
The program subtitled "Make a Litter Difference in Your Watershed" was in preparation for the annual volunteer cleanup of the Potomac River watershed from West Virginia to the Chesapeake Bay.
In just three hours last year, 4,000 volunteers picked, pulled and dragged about 70 tons of trash, junk and polluting materials out of the Potomac and its tributaries.
"This year, we are expecting 5,000 volunteers," said Brian Burnett, spokesman for the Alice Ferguson Foundation. The foundation initiated the annual Potomac Watershed Cleanup 14 years ago and works with volunteer organizations, and city, county and federal government agencies in the cleanup and education process.
This year's theme, "From Our Streets to Our River," describes how most of the trash moves from metropolitan neighborhoods, down their city streets, into storm drains and eventually into the Potomac.
Yesterday, 17 park rangers crouched in subfreezing temperatures along the river in Anacostia Park in Southeast. They used improvised nets on the ends of sticks, or rakelike devices to pull stuff from the water, and knelt to pick pieces of plastic, paper and bottles from debris washed upon the shore.
"There's a hypodermic needle in here," said Nancy Smaroff, director of Bridging the Watershed, which oversees the partnership between the schools and Potomac Area National Parks. She held a plastic bottle that stored the needle.
The cleanup is a good experience for students, explained Maggie Zadorozny, an educational specialist in Rock Creek Park who helped initiate the education program early in her 16-year career in the National Park Service.
Youths learn about erosion and pollution by studying and analyzing the trash and solutions extracted from the rivers and streams, Ms. Zadorozny said. Trash from the watershed is separated and disposed of in public dumps or recycling centers.
Tires are among the most damaging trash discarded into the Potomac watershed, Mr. Burnett said, adding that 33 states ban tires from landfills. They can contain stagnant water, potential breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes. When dry, they may catch fire. One tire fire near Winchester, Va., burned for nine months.
Last year, the cleanup at 110 sites in the Potomac watershed removed 10,000 tires, furniture, suitcases, sneakers, baby strollers, a Civil War cannon ball, an 1878 tombstone, car parts and a 1955 Chevy.
The annual cleanup began in 1989 when the Hard Bargain Farm in Accokeek, across the Potomac from George Washington's Mount Vernon, wanted to clean the Piscataway Park shoreline.
This year's cleanup is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 6. To learn about and to volunteer for the cleanup, call 301/292-5665 or log onto www.potomaccleanup.org.


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