“Some of the trash we picked up, you'd need a tetanus shot just to look at,” Charles Kimble, of West Union, said. This was Kimble's fourth year as a volunteer. “The pile gets smaller every year. Hopefully, the day will come when we can do this and there won't be any trash to pick up.”
Dan Wickerham organized the first sweep 15 years ago when he was the Education Specialist for Adams Brown Recycling.
“Since then, different people have spearheaded the sweep over the years,” said Bill Wickerham, Wildlife Specialist for Adams County Soil and Water Conservation District and current organizer for the event. “There are two purposes: to pick up trash and create awareness. You take Ohio Brush Creek for granted when you're driving past it and you don't appreciate it until you got down in it,” Wickerham said. “If you can get people out here, they appreciate it a whole lot more.”
Sherry Johnson, of Peebles, brought her son and nine young friends to support the effort. Johnson participated years ago and thought it was fun. A few years later, she brought the kids.
“It's a free canoe ride and they got to learn about the creek. Plus, they're helping the environment,” Johnson said. “It's a lot of fun.”
The main stem of Ohio Brush Creek runs more than 60 miles long. The Ohio EPA ranks Ohio Brush Creek among the top 10 healthiest streams in the state, according to Jason Brown, Watershed Coordinator for the East Fork of the Little Miami River in Clermont County.
Brown also demonstrated safety techniques for the volunteers and presented a lunchtime talk about freshwater mussels in the creek, which provides a natural filter.
Neil Winn, Earth Team Volunteer for Adams County Soil and Water, gave a lunchtime talk about the formation of Ohio Brush Creek. According to Winn, the current formation of Ohio Brush Creek is 15,000 years old and was the result of the most recent glaciation.
Canoes were provided by Gallia County Soil and Water Conservation District, Brush Creek Excursions and individual volunteers. Litter drop off points were made available at the Armstrong property and Hickory Valley Boat Ramp.
“Some of the stuff that gets removed has been there for 30 years or more,” Wickerham said.
Of the 2,580 pounds of garbage the volunteers were able to remove, 1,220 pounds will be recycled, including 520 pounds of metal and 60 pounds of household hazardous waste. The household hazardous waste, which includes items such as a full can of brake cleaner and a five-gallon bucket of mystery liquid, will be processed through Adams Brown Recycling Center's Household Hazardous Waste Day in July. Two dozen tires were removed, as well as 1,300 pounds of garbage.
“When you appreciate Ohio Brush Creek and you're aware of what you've got, you'll make the effort to protect it,” said Wickham.