view counter

What Floats Down the River

Patuxent River Park 150 trash bags cleaner

A lot of tires, a large fuel tank, baseballs and footballs plus plenty of bottles and plastic and Styrofoam containers. That kind of junk made up much of the 150 bags of trash found and removed from Patuxent River Park near Upper Marlboro by 50 volunteers and 10 staffers.

“What we can’t so easily see is an even bigger concern than large floating objects,” said park’s volunteer coordinator Shelby Cross. Invisible or nearly so are the microscopic bits shed by Styrofoam containers. Even when they appear to be intact, Cross said, material finds its way into the food chain. Maryland’s ban on Styrofoam food service containers will go into effect next year, reducing both Styrofoam litter and the volume of microparticles building up in our environment. 

Patuxent River Park’s experience is much like similar events in parks throughout the region and the nation. But with its plentitude of wetlands, volunteers get to don chest-high waders and really get into the resource. Many volunteers come year after year and report having a wonderful time picking mysterious things out of the water.