MARIANNA – Wildflowers were beginning to bloom and chirping warblers announced their spring arrival as kayakers and canoeists set out Saturday morning for an adventure along Ten Mile Creek near Marianna.
The volunteers returned by boat about noon with a small mountain of trash, including vehicle tires, bedsprings and the back of an old plastic television – items they had removed from the banks of the creek in the first large-scale effort to clean up the tributary of the Monongahela River.
“It feels rewarding,” said Jessica Dodson of Milton, a Washington & Jefferson College sophomore who was among 27 people using 16 boats in the beautification project.
“I found a bag of dog food. It was very random,” added her friend, Tatiana Johnson, a W&J senior from Cleveland.
The Marianna Outdoorsmen Association has held smaller annual cleanups of the creek since 2001, but this year’s was the first to draw a large number of people and groups in an effort that followed about four miles of the creek’s banks, said its president, Jason White.
“People need to realize the beauty they have here,” White said, while inmates eligible to work in Washington County jail’s Furlough to Service Program cleaned a park-like area beside the creek in West Bethlehem Township.
“It’s like having a bar of gold in front of your face and you don’t see it,” he said of the creek, which is home to a large variety of fish.
Members of the nonprofit Paddle Without Pollution of Pittsburgh managed the cleanup effort by boats. Those volunteers returned to shore smelly, soaking wet and partially covered with mud.
“We love to paddle and we always pick up trash when we go out,” said group member Melissa Rohm of Scott Township.
Its members were out on the water in Pittsburgh in 2011, when “the amount of trash was incredible downtown,” she said. The friends soon formed a nonprofit organization, which now receives inquiries from people worldwide seeking advice on organizing such cleanups, Rohm said.
She is friends with Lisa Scherer of Ten Mile Creek Watershed, who joined the effort Saturday. Scherer said West Beth Township agreed to pick up and dispose of the trash.
“It’s a beautiful creek,” Rohm said.