NAPS Launches Great Wicomico River Cleanup Flotilla (w/Slideshow)
One day after Tropical Storm Ophelia brought high winds and storm surge through the area, 53 volunteers teamed up to remove trash from the Great Wicomico River and its tributaries. The 2023 NAPS Creek Cleanup was held Sunday, September 24, hosted by NAPS with essential support from Omega Protein, Smith Point Sea Rescue, and Reedville Fishermen’s Museum.
The land base of operations was Mila Landing near Wicomico Church. After a lunch for all participants at noon, eight cleanup teams on skiffs & kayaks shoved off to comb 35 miles of shoreline and return to the land base with boatloads of trash. As a safety precaution, Captains Pat Darr, Stacie Talbot, and Bill Turville stood watch on Smith Point Sea Rescue’s 42-foot Provincial Rescue I.
A trash sorting crew at Mila Landing documented the haul and pulled out material that could be recycled or reused. An estimated 3,800 pounds of refuse was removed from the waterways and shoreline including dock boards, bottles and cans, tires, furniture, abandoned floats, scrap metal, and a wide array of other items. NAPS awarded prizes to the teams with the largest total haul, largest/heaviest single item, and most unusual item.
The “Largest Total Haul” was awarded to the crew of Captain Deihl’s skiff: Isaac Faulkner, Carter Gaskins, Lundon Gaskins, Tucker Gaskins and Luke Sisk. The team's haul included two chairs, a milk crate, a pallet, and many crab trap floats and deck boards.
The “Largest/Heaviest Single item” was a waterlogged piling estimated in excess of 300 pounds recovered by the crew of Rescue B – Aylett Sanchez Cervantes, Kailyn Lewis and Jasmine Rankins. The crew also recovered the “Most Unusual Item” – an automatic dog feeder full of silt.
Each registered participant was awarded a NAPS “Trash Crab” T-shirt and offered a reusable grocery bag.
Members of the volunteer trash crews were Lyryc Bea, Nathalie Biddlecomb, Ally Biddlecomb, Chloe Brann, Scarlett Brown, Molly Dameron, Matt Darr, Freddie Dubose, Isaac Faulkner, Lundon Gaskins, Carter Gaskins, Tucker Gaskins, Kailyn Lewis, Carson Mann, Caroline Neale, Jasmine Rankins, Bevan Ransone, Ann Rice, Cason Rogers, Sophia Ross, Aylett Sanchez Cervantes, Itzel Santamaria, James Scripture, Joseph Scripture, Parker Shirilla, Luke Sisk, and Emma Somers.
The volunteer skiffs captains and mates were Dan Benjamin, Heather Cockrell, Nick Cockrell, Brooks Dameron, Roxsey Dameron, Monty Deihl, Mary Deihl, Don Imbur, Anne Shackleford, Don Stone, Ben Whanger, Shannon Wilkins, and Rip Witkowski.
A land-based support crew organized the effort, set up lunch, helped unload the boats returning with their “catch,” and sorted the trash: Mike Ahart, Ian Brownlee, Mandy Faulkner, Holly Hartung, Alice Imbur, Lisa Murphy, Terry Murphy, LaVar Rich, Kristen Shirilla, and Katie Wilkins.
The NAPS Creek Cleanup was funded by NAPS and Omega Protein. Smith Point Sea Rescue provided the safety boat and crew, and two additional Sea Rescue skiffs with captains/mates. Special thanks to Reedville Fishermen’s Museum for providing tables, chairs and tents for the event.
NAPS also thanks the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service for providing no-cost accident insurance for registered participants and Virginia Clean Waterways for providing gloves, trash bags and other support.
“We were on pins and needles wondering whether the storm would clear out in time, but the weather cooperated and everyone did a wonderful job,” said Mike Ahart, NAPS president. “I think they made the river and creeks safer for boats, too…they recovered a lot of floating debris after the storm surge,” he added.
NAPS has held Creek Cleanup events since 1993 on each of the county’s major creeks and rivers. To participate in the next NAPS Creek Cleanup as a volunteer or sponsor, email Stewardship@NAPSva.org.
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