Cleaning Up the Creek

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

"When I first moved here, I didn't even know there was a stream that went thru Harrisonburg called Blacks Run," says Patty May.

Now, she is heading up the clean-up that's keeping the stream "on the run."

"Blacks Run is really a jewel running through Harrisonburg and a lot of people don't recognize that so we're trying to raise awareness," she says.

With no signs to mark its presence, the stream relies on corporate sponsors and community volunteers to keep it known "and" clean. May expects 300 people will come out for the 6th annual Blacks Run Clean Up project this Saturday. It's in celebration of Earth Day and part of Operation Spruce-Up - an initiative of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

"They send us trash bags and gloves and first aid kits to help us with this day," she says.

But eco-efforts don't end there. Saturday marks the groundbreaking of a garden and 16-mile bike and pedestrian path.

Though it's just an unsightly gravel lot now the parcel of land on the corner of Liberty and Wolfe streets will soon be home to Liberty Park, the gateway to the greenway.

President of Friends of Blacks Run Greenway, Todd Hedinger, says the park "is going to provide an oasis of green in the middle of downtown Harrisonburg."

The Blacks Run Greenway will also make better use of the city's storm water runoff.

"Over 60-percent of the water from an average Harrisonburg rainfall flows into Blacks Run," he says.

That's 57-percent more than the stream can handle, killing the wildlife here. But with park and path in place, environmentalists say life along the stream will return.

The Clean-Up starts at 9 a.m. at 144 North Liberty Street. Lunch will be provided at 12 p.m. The groundbreaking of Liberty Park will follow at one, with a community party lasting until 3 p.m.

All are welcome.


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