Kayakers, canoeists pick up trash along Ten Mile Creek

April 19, 2014
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Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter
Volunteers, from left, Beth Kahkoner of Washington County Watershed Alliance, and Carnegie Mellon University students Nick Lam and Aravindh Mehendran return Saturday from the clean-up of Ten Mile Creek with a large piece of discarded heavy plastic. Order a Print
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Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter
Lisa Scherer of Ten Mile Creek Watershed, center, was among the leaders of a large-scale clean up along the stream in the Marianna area Saturday. Order a Print
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Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter
Washington & Jefferson College students Jessica Dodson, left, and Tatiana Johnson joined a large-scale cleanup Saturday along the banks of Ten Mile Creek in the Marianna area. Order a Print

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.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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