Every year, tens of thousands of volunteers come together to pick up trash from local streams, creeks, and neighborhoods as a part of the Alliance’s Project Clean Stream. What started as a single day event over a decade ago, has now turned into a full season of volunteer clean up events throughout the watershed. Thanks to our partners at Keep PA Beautiful and Clean Virginia Waterways, we’ve also expanded our efforts in Pennsylvania and Virginia. 

It’s safe to say that this year we’ve all experienced unexpected challenges. However, through it all, PCS’s amazing clean up event leaders, who we call our site captains and volunteers have been flexible and adapted to the changing situation. We were able to still host PCS, with some additional safety guidelines and a reduced number of volunteers at each event, not to mention changing the PCS season from Spring to Fall. Not only are we proud to say that we were still able to help prevent trash from entering our waterways, but we also value that we were able to maintain a relationship with our partners, community members, and volunteers.

We are thankful for our PCS site captains who lead community cleanups each year, r and were happy to see them return this Fall. John Long, who founded a community group called “Clean Bread and Cheese Creek” has been hosting clean up events through PCS since 2001. John speaks about his favorite part of hosting clean up events, , “It’s either how streams or parks look after we leave or it’s the kids…they are just so happy to be at a clean up. Both of those are just incredible.” John was able to host two clean up events this Fall with about 40 volunteers in attendance, removing over 100 bags of trash, including 17 tires, 8 scooters, 4 shopping carts, 2 office chairs, a box fan, a bike, chain link fence, and a kiddie pool! In an email thanking volunteers John wrote, “Thank you everyone so very much for all your incredible hard work while practicing safe social distancing guidelines! Our volunteer dedication to working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier community and environment is beyond measure!” 

Project Clean Stream events this Fall were a great way to encourage people to get outside and safely do their part to help their local community. We asked everyone who volunteered to wear a mask and stay six feet apart from one another. Geoffery Ely, a PCS volunteer who attended a clean up at St. Luke’s Nature Restoration in Eastport, Maryland wrote, “It’s good to get down in the dirt sometimes! We are so lucky to have the Restoration of Nature in the neighborhood, and it feels good to be able to contribute.” Another PCS volunteer, Abri Sege, who attended a PCS event that the Alliance’s hosted at its headquarters in Eastport wrote, “Even though I am not from the area, it felt great to be able to help clean up the neighborhood because every bit of trash that we collected helped the environment in the long run.”

Project Clean Stream Event in Rock Creek Park

Between our Fall PCS kick off on September 11th through November, we hosted 35 clean ups throughout the watershed with roughly 260 volunteers – all thanks to our 30 site captains who planned and organized the events. PCS wouldn’t be possible without them! 

Thanks to everyone’s hard work we removed more than 15,000 pounds of trash! Considering the shorter season and the restricted guidelines, we are proud of these impactful results!