Maryland Outdoor Club
Sat, Mar 31 2007 - Pax River Canoe Cleanup (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Saki Saki
Participants:Saki Saki, Charles Rice, Chris Zhang

Write Up:
31.25 pounds of trash per person per hour! That's a lot of trash...and that's just how much we collected from less than a mile stretch of the Patuxent River, 500 pounds total!

At 0900, my group and I filled out waivers at Patuxent River Park. We met the park naturalist and the park director who loaned us three aluminum canoes, personal floation devices (PFDs), paddles, and gloves. We were also given some tips on canoeing. I passed out my own personal walkie-talkies and a couple of us set our very high frequency (VHF) radios to the same channel for communication. We discussed safety procedures, got our trash bags, were given some snacks by the Park staff, donned our PFDs, and launched from Jackson's Landing at 0930.

Our group was small but what we lacked in size, we made up in motivation. I had a couple of last minute cancellations the day before the event. To start with such a small group and lose two the day prior is a problem. But one participant was in recruiting mode and managed to talk his housemate into joining us. Way to go!

We paddled north (upstream) on the Patuxent (Pax) River, stopping to pick up trash on the west (Prince George's County) side. I've paddled this area many times and never really noticed much trash. But I'd never gone ashore in this area. When we saw some trash from the water, we pulled our canoes onto land and picked it up. But once we began walking around, we noticed much more trash hidden in the marshy grasslands. There was no way to see this litter unless you were on land and it isn't likely anyone would be on land in this area unless they paddled in. Most of the annual park cleanup is done on land. Hence I doubt the section we cleaned up had been touched in quite awhile. As the tide rose and fell, floods came and left, and winds pushed trash ashore, more and more just kept getting tangled in the grasses, only to be hidden until today.

It didn't take long before our bags were filling up. We'd clean up one area then paddle a little more upstream and clean up more. The land was extremely muddy...much more than I expected. Next year, I'll be sure to buy tall rubber boots.

An overwhelming majority of the litter was from bottles. Most of the bottles were glass. We found an unusually large number of balls. One paddler noted that most of the bottles we found had their tops on, which made them float. The glass bottles without tops were probably at the bottom of the river. Hence the litter we saw might have only been a fraction of what was actually there.

A few people saw a beaver den and an angry beaver swatting its tail on the water. Apparently, he didn't understand why we were there. Later, a snake was seen. Unfortunately, I missed both critters.

Two members only planned to stay for the Patuxent River Park Cleanup so at 1100, I escorted them back to Jackson's Landing while the other two participants continued to pick up litter until about 1130.

One of the park staff helped us unload our bags of trash. He was amazed at how much the five of us collected in under 2 hours. He estimated it was 200 pounds! After thanking the two members for their hard work, I paddled back upstream to meet the other two. We landed at the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary pier at the west end of Railroad Bed Trail. There were numerous people helping clean the Sanctuary. One woman was wearing hip high waders. Obviously she knew what she was getting into.

My group walked west on Railroad Bed Trail then north on Otter Point Trail to the Visitor Center where we joined the rest of the cleanup crew for lunch. There were many families participating in the event.

From the Elaine M. Peiffer Overlook, I caught a great view of the Pax and its grassy marshlands. I even spotted a fellow paddler in the distance.

I saw my point of contact, who met us with a warm friendly greeting, provided more trash bags, an

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