The Friends of Scioto Brush Creek and the Adams Soil and Water Conservation District teamed up over the weekend with more than 25 individuals to sweep a two-mile stretch of Scioto Brush Creek, cleaning it of discarded tires and trash.
12 canoes were launched with individuals on land and in water to organize a proper cleanup. As they paddled, they stopped along the way to pry loose tires from mud, excavate them from waist-deep waters, and even loaded a door-less, discarded safe into a boat. Folks were stacking their boats with trash and using careful precision to balance the temperamental canoes on the water of Scioto Brush to foster a healthier environment for the ecosystem.
The original plan was to clean four miles of creek, but the team of volunteers found so much discarded in the first two miles that they had to call it a day, reaching an entirely new record for the sweep that entered its 15th year.
“It was tremendous,” Friends of Scioto Brush Creek President Jody McCallister said. “This is the first time ever we only had to do half of our event and completely get everything filled up in terms of the truck and what we could haul off in one day. So, that was amazing.”
The group of volunteers met at the Otway Covered Bridge Park and then made their way to unload boats on private property that had been secured ahead of time. They then drove their cars to the end trail and loaded up in trucks to go launch. The midway point was the family farm of Gina and Larry Collinsworth, who not only helped unload trash, but provided water and snacks for the participants.
Once they surprised McCallister, who was navigating things with volunteers on land, with their record-breaking haul, they called it a day, having spent the entire time planned on the first two miles and were shuttled back to their cars.
McCallister said the group has been organizing cleanups for 15 years in its 17 years of existence, going back to an early beginning of caring for area natural resources.
“Back in 1997, we met at Kevin and Barb Bradbury’s home and we were talking and trying to come up with a project to do. We were members of the Shawnee Nature Club and a few members wanted to step out of the social aspect and step into doing something more active. One person suggested we look at Scioto Brush Creek, because it is such an amazing natural resource in our own backyard and that’s where the idea started.”
The group quickly fell in love with the stream and said that they do all they can to educate people on its importance and strive to maintain it for the wildlife that calls it home. They educate local schools, host community events, and prepare hands-on practices like this sweep.
“The stream itself is an amazing, exceptional, warm water habitat in the state of Ohio and this section we had not swept in ten years, so it was a long time coming,” McCallister said. “It is home to a lot of rare, endangered and threatened species in this particular section and we were excited to get the trash out of there that needed removed so the area can be conducive to the animals that live in that watershed.”
When volunteers were not cleaning, they were finding baby snapping turtles, mudpuppies, otters, and wild fish and birds.
While 15 years is a long time to navigate the waters of this cleanup, Jody and her husband, Martin McCallister, who helps lead the efforts, are excited to see it only growing in size and impact.
“It is amazing in and of itself that we’ve been doing it for 15 years and are only growing. The first year we did this, we, maybe, had seven or eight paddlers. This year, we had 22 altogether, so, it is growing every year. I think the most important thing is getting people on the stream that aren’t familiar with it. We had folks there from Waverly, a lot of people from Adams County, one gentleman from Cincinnati; not only were local folks there, but people further out, because Scioto Brush Creek has this Ohio reputation of being an exceptional warm water habitat,” McCallister said. “Getting people on the actual stream and seeing the mudpuppies and even an otter is just, I don’t know, it inspires people.”
The groups had several other people in hand leading, not just the McCallisters. Some of them included “tire king” Ed Paul, Bill Wickerman of Adams Soil and Water Conservation District, and Rick Jensen of Lawrence Scioto Solid Waste District.
Follow Friends of Scioto Brush Creek on Facebook to stay updated on their efforts and events.
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved