Members of the Lynchburg community spent Saturday morning picking up water bottles, lunchboxes, car tires and other trash along the city’s trails and in its parks.
Around 60 people registered to participate in Saturday’s Blackwater Creek Cleanup event — organized by Lynchburg Parks & Rec and Lynchburg Water Resources — according to Taylor Haris, community recreation programmer with Lynchburg Parks & Rec.
“With this new season, we weren’t really sure how the community would want to interact with us with everything going on,” Haris said. “So we were really excited to see the amazing response and have people really want to partake in this opportunity to improve their community.”
Haris said Lynchburg Parks & Rec staff began noticing high volumes of trash along the Blackwater Creek, on trails and in parks, and hearing from community members who noticed the same thing. Litter along streets and trails and in parks travels into creeks, Haris said. From there, trash either collects in creeks and forms “trash dams” or makes its way into the James River, harming ecosystems there.
Lynchburg Parks & Rec has seen an increase in people using the city’s parks and trails this spring as many people looked for ways to get outside during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“On our trails, we’ve definitely seen an increase in usage,” Haris said. “Because we were able to keep them open during the pandemic, people have been enjoying the trails and parks.”
While smaller cleanup events have been held in the past, Haris said Saturday’s was the largest.
Due to the high interest from community members, Haris said, the participants were divided across five locations with groups at Hollins Mill Park, Blackwater Creek Athletic Area, Sandusky Park, Percival’s Island and the Downtown Blackwater Creek Trail. The event was held from 9 a.m. to noon, but, to limit crowding, participants were assigned staggered shifts. As another precaution, participants were asked to wear face masks when interacting with other volunteers or organizers.
“We wanted to keep everyone safe,” Haris said.
Kara Rombough and Amanda Abadie, nurses at Lynchburg General Hospital, volunteered Saturday and collected trash along the 3-mile Blackwater Creek Trail, starting at its downtown entrance.
Rombough and Abadie said they frequently visit the city’s trails and were eager to help clean them.
“Why not clean up a trail you’re always running on?” Rombough said. “The atmosphere of downtown Lynchburg is so nice, we just wanted to help keep it beautiful.”
Lynchburg residents Sidnei Arrowood and Alan Sloss spent their morning collecting trash along the railroad tracks by the skate park downtown.
“We use the trails quite a bit, so we figured we should give back,” Sloss said.
Across the city, members of the Boy Scouts of America Troop 29 spent nearly two hours collecting trash at Sandusky Park. Eight members of the troop, chartered by Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg, participated in Saturday’s cleanup.
Chris Mitchell, assistant scout master, said members of the troop try to participate in community-oriented events whenever possible.
“The Boy Scouts are about community,” Mitchell said. “This is one of the ways we can help out community.”
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