With a warm wind and cloudy skies, 62 student and adult volunteers participated in the annual Creek Cleanup organized by the Northumberland Association for Progressive Stewardship (NAPS) on Sunday, October 6th.
After a lunch for all participants at the Mallard Bay Community Clubhouse near Heathsville, seven skiff captains shoved off with cleanup teams to remove boatloads of trash and recyclables from the shorelines of the upper Great Wicomico River and adjacent creeks. A small group of kayakers tackled the headwater creeks of Bush Mill Stream and Crabbe Mill Stream.
The teams covered over 30 miles of shoreline, bringing the “catch” back to the Mallard Bay piers to be unloaded and sorted. Bottles, cans, plastic, fishing gear and dock debris were removed from the water and shore, plus lawn furniture, a sunken sailboat, old crab baskets and oyster floats, scrap metal, tires and various other trash.
Prizes were awarded to the students on the teams with the largest total haul, largest single item, most unusual item, and most reusable item (see photos/captions at end of article). In addition, each registered participant was awarded a NAPS-designed T-shirt with a trash crab logo and the message: “don’t trash my Bay!”
As in past NAPS creek cleanups, a volunteer crew from Smith Point Sea Rescue – Captains Pete Ratiz, Buddy Sylvia, and Bill Turbille – stood watch aboard the Rescue I as a safety precaution.
The volunteer trash crew consisted of members of the school Beta Club and Community Problem Solvers groups, members of the Northumberland County Sheriff’s Office Explorers, and other students and adults from the community: Althea Akgun, Atilla Akgun, Gus Akgun, Heather Akgun, Nate Akgun, Caroline Andrews, Becca Baker, James Baker, Keith Ball, Talen Ballast, Jay Bea, Bernadette Blackwell, Ian Brownlee, Emily Burgess, Tashil Chavda, Ann Demuth, Lane Eubank, Amanda Faulkner, Isaak Faulkner, Geoffrey Frank, Holly Hartung, Anna Jett, Jessica Lee, Kelsey Moss, Brady Mullins, Teagan Mullins, Bradi O’Bier, Brooks Parker, Sam Parker, Marin Pinon, Channing Reynolds, Camdin Sisk, Alice Sisson, Caleb Smith, and McKensey Smithart.
The volunteer skiffs captains were Northumberland County Deputy Stephen Akers with first mate Stacey Akers, Bill Armstrong of the Northern Neck Land Conservancy, Monty Deihl of Omega Protein with first mate Mary Deihl, Becky Haynie of Long & Foster Real Estate, Don Imbur of NAPS, Chris Parker of TowBoatUS, and Northumberland High School sophomore Hallie Shackleford.
A land-based support crew organized the effort, set up lunch, and sorted the trash as boats returned with their catch: Mike Ahart, Geoff Frank, Linda Gayle, Ralph Hendrickson, Julie Hendrickson, Zoe Ingalls, Rita Johnson, Lynton Land, Judy Lang, Richard LeBaron, Janice Mahoney, Shauna McCranie, Carrie Mullins, & Northumberland County supervisor Tommy Tomlin.
Mallard Bay Community administrators Scott McGuire and Bob Mitchell were also on hand to help. After crews brought back 30-foot-long boards and other debris too large to be hauled away, McGuire provided a circular saw so that the items could be cut up. “The precision of the well-thought out event was a pleasure to observe, as was the enthusiastic, yet serious, attitude of the participants,” wrote McGuire in a message to community members.
The NAPS Creek Cleanup was funded by a $250 donation by Omega Protein and NAPS. Other sponsors include the Mallard Bay Community for providing its amenities for the base of operations, Smith Point Sea Rescue for providing a safety boat and crew, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service for providing no-cost accident insurance for registered participants, and Wicomico Marine Construction, Tiffany Yachts and Omega Protein for each providing use of a skiff for the cleanup. Becky Haynie volunteered and captained her “See It by Boat” skiff she uses to show property listings to potential homebuyers.
“Another great day on the water and a sea of smiling faces,” said Mike Ahart, president of NAPS and team leader for the cleanup. “I love to see the community come together to help maintain our beautiful creeks and wildlife…every little bit makes a difference.”
NAPS is a local non-profit promoting environmental stewardship through education, monitoring, and action since 1989. It has held Creek Cleanup events since 1993, rotating through each of the county’s major creeks and rivers. To participate in the next Creek Cleanup as a volunteer or sponsor, email stewardship@NAPSva.org.
The “largest total haul” prize was awarded to the crew captained by Monty & Mary Deihl. From left to right: Caroline Andrews, Anna Jett, Alice Sisson, Kelsey Moss, and McKensey Smithart.
The “largest single item” was awarded for a sunken sailing vessel to (from left) Captain Don Imbur and the Atgun family: Atilla, Heather, Nate, Althea, and Gus.
The “most unusual item” prize was awarded for an antenna-like object mounted to a 30-foot pole, shown here carried by crew members Teagan Mullins and Lane Eubank. The team was captained by Chris Parker of TowBoatUS with other crew members Talen Ballast, Jay Bea, Amanda Faulkner, Isaak Faulkner, Brooks Parker, and Sam Parker.
The “most reusable item” prize was awarded to the crew captained by Becky Haynie (right). Crew members Bradi O'Bier and Bernadette Blackwell wrestle a recovered dock float out of the boat. Team members not shown: Becca Baker and Camdin Sisk.
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