It was a Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m., and already it was in the mid-70s and humid. After getting lost, I arrived at the Magothy River Day and Watershed Clean Up, an event organized by the Magothy River Association (MRA) to celebrate John Smith’s discovery of the Magothy River on June 12th more than 400 years ago.
Once I arrived -- 15 minutes late -- the 25+ volunteers that had gathered at Chelsea Beach in Pasadena, Maryland, were already working hard and craving the water cooler and ice that I was in charge of bringing. The enthusiastic, hard-working (and sweaty!) volunteers, who ranged in age from 7 to 70, were helping to clean up Indian River Creek, which was riddled with hundreds of tires and other debris from more than 25 years of neglect. The creek was at the bottom of a steep ravine, and rolling huge truck tires up the hill was a muddy and sweaty challenge for many of us (including me!!!!). But over the next couple of hours we managed to nearly fill two 20-foot-long dumpsters with old tires, rims, rusty lawnmowers, water heaters (???) and other “junk.”
MRA President Paul Sparado was there and working as hard as anyone. But the real organizers for the day were Juliet Page and Tom Hampton of the MRA Stormwater Committee, of which I am a member. Along with other members of the committee, they worked with Anne Arundel County to identify sites along the Magothy River in need of clean-up and restoration. These before and after photos show what a difference this small band of people made that morning and the value of citizens and government working together to achieve a common goal.
I just recently joined the Chesapeake Bay Program Office as its deputy director after more 20 years of working for the EPA in Washington, D.C. Not only has my carbon footprint become smaller, but my professional and personal worlds have become one. I have done volunteer work for many years with MRA, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Earth Conservation Corps, and now Bay-related work is my everyday job, too. But I am only one of the nearly 17 million people who live in the Bay watershed. It will take efforts from each and every one of us to restore the Bay we all know and love.
President Obama and his family of five (remember, his mother-in-law lives with him!) are among the newest residents of the Bay watershed, and it did not take him long to embrace his new home and recognize the Bay as a national treasure by issuing an Executive Order. It charges the EPA to lead a renewed federal effort to restore the Bay by working with its state and local partners and others throughout the watershed. But it is important to remember that the government can’t do it all. The MRA cleanup and its volunteers are a prime example of that. So lets each do our part…one by one….it’s a new day for the Bay!