Since mid March I have been picking up debris and cleaning the three and one half miles of shore line of the Potomac River which forms the North boundary of Caledon Natural Area. This is an interesting and rewarding opportunity.
As the tide cycles over and over an assortment of items wash ashore. During storms the water will rise higher than usual and push the trash further inland. Many of the things are what you would expect to find in a river such as fishing tackle and crab pots.
There are some items that wash ashore that would not immediately come to mind, but are not so unusual when you give them some thought. Things like ball cap visors, shoes and other footwear, parts of coolers, combs, lighters, expended shot gun shells, plastic dinnerware, and various beverage containers are examples of the slightly unusual. These seem to be things that fall overboard when folks are out in their boats enjoying the river.
Then there is a class of items that wash ashore that are more difficult to understand or rationalize their presence in the river. This group of items includes balls, primarily tennis balls, Hard Hats, and automobile tires. The tires are quite unusual in that each one I have found so far is mounted on a wheel.
There is some anticipation in wondering what the next FIND will be. Most everything is a repeat of something before, but now and then something entirely new appears.
Here is an accounting of the “finds” during cleanup activities so far this Spring:
1) 33 large plastic bags of trash
2) 16 Crab pots
3) 18 tires, all mounted on wheels
4) Balls, unnumbered, but the most in one day was 43
5) One Seriously damaged 12′ fiberglass boat hull
6) One Sea-Doo gas tank
7) One fish finder
8) Baskets, buckets, and trash cans
The shore line is cleaner, the exercise is good, and I have dreamed up a scenario for how the tires get into the river.
The Potomac River is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, State of the Bay Report by evaluating 12 key health indicators: wetlands, forested buffers, underwater grasses, resource lands, toxics, water clarity, phosphorus and nitrogen, dissolved oxygen, crabs, rockfish, oysters and shad. The 2008 Report still shows the Chesapeake Bay receiving a D grade.