Local students, environmentalists clean up Staunton’s Asylum Creek

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 5:03 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - A group of students met up Thursday morning with local environmentalists to clean up the Staunton area, and they’ll do it Friday and Saturday as well.

Shenandoah Green hosted the cleanup event, along with groups like Friends of the Middle River and the Lewis Creek Watershed Association. They partnered with JMU’s Valley Scholars for Thursday’s event.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation reached out to local environmentalist groups for help keeping waters clean.

“The idea was, hey, we’re doing such a great job cleaning up the bay, why don’t we go to the headwaters and get everybody to be cleaning up the water before they get it?” said Fred Blanton, chair of the Lewis Creek Watershed Association and Treasurer of Shenandoah Green.

Even though Staunton creeks are small, pollution has larger impacts down the line.

“You can throw a single-use water bottle on the ground right here. Gravity will roll it into this creek here which will then go into Lewis Creek, from Asylum Creek, and then into Middle River, the Shenandoah River, the Potomac, and then to the Bay,” Blanton said.

Volunteers keep track of what they pick up. They said cigarette butts are the biggest contributors to pollution in the area.

“Everybody flicks them out of their car thinking, oh, this will just break down. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. We pick up literally thousands of those,” Blanton said.

Other commonly littered items are plastic bags, plastic bottles, chip bags, and candy wrappers.

The cleanup helped keep the bay clean, but it also helped students learn more about the long-term impacts of pollution.

“Not only is it helping the creek, but it helps lakes, rivers, oceans,” said Valley Scholar and high school student Emily Lane.

Middle school student Aris Odom said he doesn’t want animals to get hurt because of litter.

“Just making our environment better for not just us, but also the animals and plants around us,” Odom said.

Friday’s cleanup is at Lewis Creek, and Saturday’s is at Gum Spring Branch. To learn more about those events, click here. To learn more about Shenandoah Green and its other events, click here.

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