Fort Belvoir, Va. (April 10, 2014) - Volunteers collected record amounts of trash along Fort Belvoir's shorelines last weekend during Fort Belvoir's annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup.

"This was by far the most successful year of the cleanup since my involvement in 2009," said Kevin Walter, natural resource specialist with the Directorate of Public Works Natural Resource Division.

About 200 volunteers collected 150 bags of trash, along with five 50-gallon drums, 60 tires and about 500 pounds of scrap metal from the Pohick Bay, Accotink Bay and Creek, Gunston Cove, Potomac River and Dogue Creek areas, he said.

They also found a few surprises.

"I found half of a fishing pole," said Abby Heffner, 10, who volunteered with Girl Scout Troop 266, out of Lorton, Va.

"Littering is not good because then poor, innocent people have to come out to clean it up for you," she said.

Some of the biggest contributions came from local organizations, including Level 3 Communications, Walter added.

"This year they cleaned the western shore of Accotink Bay that has never been cleaned since Hurricane Isabel dumped loads of trash in 2003. Level 3 cleaned up 18 tires and roughly 30 bags of trash," he said.

"The Belvoir Waterfowlers came out with four boats and 10 volunteers and collected several dozen bags of trash, 50-gallon drums and 25 tires," he added. "Two Soldiers from the 300 Area Marina cleaned up the shoreline along the 300 area, which is inaccessible to the public. They cleaned up about a dozen bags of trash and a dozen tires using their boat as well."

On Sunday afternoon, groups spread out along Fort Belvoir's shoreline, putting trash in bags and lugging tires to vehicles.

To keep things interesting for her Girl Scout Daisy Troop 1444 (Rose Hill, Va.), troop leader Gale Bernatz played the "I Spy" game with the 6-year-olds.

"I spy something orange," she said, as one of her Daisies picked up a piece of plastic. "That's definitely not something that you find in nature. How do you think that got there?"

The Watershed Cleanup presented a fun way for her Scouts to practice conservation, one of the topic's they are learning about, Bernatz said.

"We were thinking about how to take care of the Earth as part of our studies and the ladies decided they wanted to be a part of the Watershed Cleanup, so we're really fortunate to find this chance at Fort Belvoir," she said. "This is such a fabulous place and a great opportunity for the girls to get out and help the community."

Meanwhile, Navy Sea Cadets Jonathan Barrientos, 14, and Jamie Hoge, 13, patrolled the Basin Trail and found a couple of tires in the Potomac River, which they carried back to the trash pickup site.

"It's important to clean our rivers," Barrientos said. "We don't want any fish getting stuck in garbage.
We want the rivers clean for people as well."

The DPW Natural Resources Division hosted the event in conjunction with the Alice Ferguson Foundation.

For more information on other local watershed cleanup events, visit