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Volunteers pitch in to clean up riverbank

April 05, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

KEEDYSVILLE - The rainy weather probably kept a few would-be volunteers from showing up at Taylors Landing on Saturday morning for the 10th annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup event, said Donna Swauger, park ranger for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Williamsport.

But it didn't hamper a die-hard team of three volunteers and three park workers in making a noticeable dent in sorting out trash from the natural debris deposited on the Potomac River bank.

"It's amazing how much a few folks can do. But there's always more trash," said Swauger, who planned to move her human vacuum as far downstream as possible during the three-hour undertaking.

Taylors Landing was one of several spots in the Washington County leg of the national park included in the annual regional cleanup effort, she said.

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This year's effort included more than 100 sites along much of the 383-mile Potomac River and many of its 100 tributaries in Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Washington, D.C., according to National Park Service spokeswoman Marsha B. Starkey.

During the 1997 event, almost 3,000 volunteers cleared more than 100 tons of trash, according to Starkey.

The cold drizzle didn't bother volunteer Megan Brown, who said she was having fun picking pieces of plastic foam and bottles from the huge heaps of branches, sticks and leaves just past the river bend.

"If it was a nice day, I'd wish I was out playing sports or something," said Brown, 18, of Burkittsville, Md.

The St. James School senior said she was earning some of the community service hours required by the state for graduation. But that wasn't her only motivation.

"I just came out to help and do what I could do," said Brown, who said it was satisfying to see the difference they'd made in the first debris heap in less than an hour's time. "It was really just disgusting."

The rain wasn't nearly as bad as the first time St. James School teacher Joyce Ray brought students out for a C&O Canal cleanup effort last fall.

"It's not as penetrating, and it's not as cold," said Ray, 49, of St. James.

She just wished the footing wasn't so slippery, she said.

Ray said she wondered what interesting things she would find this time. Last time, she said, she found a rusty, sawed-off shotgun among the river debris.

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