More than 240 Volunteers Remove Two Tons of Trash, Debris During 2023 River Sweep

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River Sweep volunteers Alonna Kunkel and Brandon Webb, participating with the Conowingo Elementary School’s Environmental Club and Green Team, retrieve a tire from the shoreline at Perryville Community Park during the 2023 cleanup on April 22. (Photo Courtesy of Holly Kunkel)

Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway’s annual shoreline cleanup took place April 22 in Cecil and Harford counties

More than 240 volunteers gathered in 10 locations in Cecil and Harford counties and removed two tons of trash and debris during Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway’s 23rd annual River Sweep on April 22.

This yearly volunteer shoreline clean-up was held in celebration of Earth Day in Havre de Grace, Conowingo, Perryville, Port Deposit, Charlestown and on Garrett Island. Since its founding in 2000, River Sweep volunteers have collected more than 127 tons of trash and debris from area shorelines and roadways.

Notable items found and removed during River Sweep include shoes, clothing, metal buckets, tires, wooden pallet, plastic bottles, skateboard, tire inner tube, Styrofoam, beer cans, plastic toy, yard sign, garden fencing and a metal trash can. A giant log was found at Long Point, and it was hauled away by a tractor.

In addition to removing trash and debris during River Sweep, 30 volunteers from the Charlestown community planted 16 trees, 60 shrubs, 50 grasses and 35 wildflowers.

Among the participating groups were the CAT Club of Havre de Grace, Conowingo Elementary School Environmental Club, Conowingo Elementary School Green Team, Daughters of American Revolution – Harbor of Grace Chapter, Havre de Grace Green Team, Girl Scout Troop 5963, Perryville Police Department Outreach Program, The Trash Monsters and YMCA of Abingdon. Also participating were groups from Constellation Power, Cytec/Solvay and Evonik Corporation in addition to many individuals not affiliated with one of the groups.

Havre de Grace Council Member Casi Boyer, Perryville Commissioners Michelle Linkey and Bob Taylor and Port Deposit Mayor Bob Kuhs were also among the River Sweep volunteers.

“This year’s River Sweep demonstrates how our work in the past is helping in the present. River Sweep not only beautifies the riverside landscape but also encourages widespread community environmental stewardship and strives to promote the growth of community partner organizations,” said Brigitte Carty, executive director of Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway. “In Havre de Grace, for example, our coordinator said the collection of trash and debris was lighter than in years’ past because of year-round cleaning efforts that are taking place by various groups like the CAT Club and others. Places that are clean tend to stay clean. In addition, children participating in cleanups like River Sweep start to recognize that it’s the thing to do and take initiative themselves.”

“We also received feedback from volunteers that River Sweep is a wonderful way to meet other community members who share the same passion for protecting the parks and shorelines,” Carty added. “River Sweep increases awareness, provides environmental education and serves as a catalyst for other environmental protection projects. We are so grateful to our volunteers, coordinators and sponsors for making this year’s River Sweep a success.”

Sponsors of the 2023 River Sweep include Constellation, Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, Keep Maryland Beautiful, Maryland Environmental Trust, Forever Maryland, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and Maryland Department of Transportation. Community partners include Cecil County, Charlestown, Harford County, Havre de Grace, Perryville, Port Deposit and Susquehanna State Park.

In addition, partial financial assistance has been provided for this project through the Cecil County VLT Local Community Grant Program, sponsored by the Cecil County Executive. This project also has been financed in part with state funds from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.

The 24th River Sweep will be held Saturday, April 20, 2024.

Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway is a nonprofit, certified Maryland Heritage Area located in Cecil and Harford counties along the Lower Susquehanna River and Upper Bay. Its mission is to encourage regional economic development through heritage tourism primarily by supporting public recreation efforts, particularly trail development and public water access, historic preservation, cultural interpretation and conservation efforts. For more information about Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway, visit www.UpperBayTrails.com.

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