Volunteers beautify Belvoir during clean up of watershed
April 19, 2013
Community volunteers helped improved the quality of life for man and nature during the annual Potomac Watershed Clean-up Sunday.
Soldiers, students and civilians maneuvered through wooded areas, filling bags with garbage, along Belvoir's shoreline. Volunteers sacrificed personal time, removing trash from several areas on post such as Dogue Creek, Tompkins Basin Park and Accotink Bay.
The event, hosted by the Fort Belvoir Directorate of Public Works, Natural Resources Office, reduced pollution on post by making Belvoir a cleaner place to live, work and play.
"This is a chance to help beautify this installation, a chance to get something done that wouldn't get done in the budget constrained environment we're living in," said Lt. Col. Paul Davidson, Secretary of Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics action officer, who participated in the clean up with his Family. "If I get lucky, this will also be chance for my kids to learn to start cleaning up their rooms."
Volunteers met at the Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge Environmental Education Center and then dispersed to collect bottles, paper and other items of trash along the shoreline. Plastic, cans, tennis balls and Styrofoam were also collected. Volunteers tried to remove as much trash as possible, even venturing into the Accotink Bay to reach for trash in the water. The collected items reduce pollution around Belvoir and the surrounding Northern Virginia region as trash tends to travel downstream with the water current. The reduced pollution also provides a better quality of life for community members, plants and wildlife, which in the past have become entangled in some of the debris. Cub, Boy and Girl Scouts also participated in the clean-up by picking up trash and planting trees near the Fort Belvoir's Travel and RV (recreational vehicle) camp, a new, soon to open, 52-pad Travel Camp in the Tompkins Basin Area along the shoreline of the Potomac River.
"I've been on many installations and Fort Belvoir has to be one of the most picturesque areas in the country, with so much natural refuge and natural habitat in the area," Davidson said. "What we do on the installation impacts these natural habitats that could be destroyed by our negligence. By cleaning the area you can certainly see the long term positive impact."
Belvoir has hosted the cleanup for the past 24 years. Kevin Walter, DPW Natural Resource specialist and event coordinator, said 150 to 200 people typically come out to support the annual event. He said volunteers fill about 50 bags of trash and pick-up 15-to 20 tires each year.
The cleanup kicked-off Belvoir's weekend long celebration of Earth Day, which has been celebrated for 43 years, according to www.earthday.org. The observance raises awareness and education of environmental concerns, such as air and water pollution. Earth Day also promotes outdoor activities and the improvement of the world's sustainability for future generations.
The Earth Day celebration and Potomac Watershed clean-up provides great educational instruction for children, according to Tracy Meador, Girl Scout Troop 3479 troop leader. Meador's troop participated in the clean-up as part of earning their Wonders of Water Activity Badge, which demonstrates Scouts' knowledge on effective means of water conservation. The young ladies created flyers inviting people to attend the clean-up and picked up trash as part of earning the badge.
"I hope they take these lessons along with them their entire life and figure out ways to help conserve water," Meador said. "I also hope they become better leaders from participating because that's what Girl Scouts do. They lead by example."
In addition to the clean-up, Belvoir hosts an Earth Day observance from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Tompkins Basin Park Friday. The garrison also participates in the Richmond Highway Spring Cleanup Saturday from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Both events are free and open to the public. Spring Cleanup participants will meet at Candlewood Suites for registration at 8 a.m. At 7:30 a.m., a shuttle service will transport volunteers from the Fort Belvoir Community Center to the registration site and back to Fort Belvoir after the clean up.
For more information on the Richmond Highway Clean-up call Fort Belvoir's Public Affairs Office (703) 805-5001, Candlewood Suites (703) 780-1111 or Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce (703) 360-6925.
For more information on the Earth Day observance call (703) 805-3971.