“Spring Cleaning” of Potomac River to Provide Key Data for Next Steps in Battle Against Litter

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 3, 2014

CONTACT:
Alena Rosen
Communications Coordinator
Tel: 202-417-3523
Cell: 202-580-9045
[email protected]

“Spring Cleaning” of Potomac River to Provide

Key Data for Next Steps in Battle Against Litter

Latest National Geographic FieldScope Technology Deployed to Assist

(Washington, DC) As the weather finally warms, thousands of regional residents will come together this spring to clean their neighborhoods as they participate in the 26th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup on April 5, 2014, the largest regional litter cleanup of its kind. Every April since 1989, the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) has coordinated the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, engaging more than 124,000 volunteers in conjunction with nearly 500 partner organizations in order to remove nearly 6.5 million pounds of trash from hundreds of sites throughout the five states of the Potomac River Watershed. The data gathered from the hundreds of sites at cleanups during the month of April will be used throughout the year by the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s larger Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative and its partners to help inform solutions to the watershed-wide threat of litter.

For the past 25 years, the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup has served as a catalyst, building momentum for year-round efforts to create a trash-free Potomac Watershed. “Litter threatens public health and safety as well as our regional economy. It harms wildlife, decreases property values, hurts business, and is a financial burden for law enforcement and local governments,” said AFF Board President Dan Jackson. “The efforts of these dedicated volunteers have a significant regional impact by not only removing tons of harmful litter but by also helping us create greater awareness of the litter issue that plagues our watershed.” Along with increasing public education, AFF’s Trash Initiative takes a comprehensive approach to solving the litter problem, including advocating for increased litter enforcement, source reduction policies, improvement in solid waste management, and increased regulation through MS4 permits.

To aid in these efforts and to build on the Cleanup’s momentum, AFF launched the new platform of the Trash Free Potomac FieldScope Project in partnership with the National Geographic Society. FieldScope, National Geographic Society’s online mapping platform for sharing and visualizing citizen science data, provides a platform for visualizing the volunteer data collected during year-round watershed cleanups through mapping, graphing and analysis tools. The new FieldScope platformallows users to better track trash hot spots, mark progress, collaborate, and target policies intended to reduce litter in the region.

“We are glad to support the efforts of the Alice Ferguson Foundation and the 26th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup by providing a platform for users to create powerful visual representations of the data behind the momentous and important efforts of volunteers who help keep the Potomac watershed clean,” said Sean O’Connor, the program manager for Educational Mapping at the National Geographic Society.

Also this April, AFF is sponsoring the 4th Annual Litter Enforcement Month (LEM). During the month, participating jurisdictions will be actively enforcing pre-existing litter laws with the objective of raising awareness about litter illegal dumping and related crimes; the laws associated with them; and their effects on our communities, our economy, and the Potomac River watershed. Participating jurisdictions in Maryland include Montgomery County Police and Prince George’s County Police. In Virginia, participating

Entities include the City of Alexandria Police and Code Administration, City of Falls Church Police, Manassas City Police and Prince William County Police. Other participating jurisdictions include theDistrict of Columbia Metropolitan Police, Metro Transit Police and the United States Park Police.

“Past results from the Annual Cleanup and Litter Enforcement Month demonstrate that working collaboratively and raising public awareness can have a powerful impact in our watershed,” said AFF Executive Director Lori Arguelles. “With innovative tools such as FieldScope, we hope that our efforts in April will spark continued commitment throughout the year and build on individual actions that drive behavior change.”

The Cleanup is sponsored by: Beveridge and Diamond; Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company; Colornet Printing; The District Department of the Environment; ExxonMobil; Gangplank Marina Slipholders Association; Greater Prince George’s County Business Roundtable; Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation; MGM Resorts International; Mom’s Organic Market; National Geographic FieldScope; National Marine Sanctuary Foundation; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-Marine Debris Program; Prince George’s County Department of Natural Resources; REI; Southern Maryland Electronic Cooperative; Starbucks; and Washington Gas.

The Alice Ferguson Foundation connects people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship and advocacy. AFF operates the Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center — a 330-acre working farm located on the shorelines of the Potomac River south of Washington, DC. As we fulfill our mission of connecting people to nature and inspiring actions that sustain our world, we provide environmental education programs at Hard Bargain Farm and through our Bridging the Watershed program at National Parks throughout the Potomac River Watershed. Our Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative seeks systemic solutions to the persistent problem of trash. Learn more at www.fergusonfoundation.org.

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Editor’s Note:

This is a highly visual story and will feature opportunities to interview participants and shoot great video or still photos demonstrating the pervasive problem of trash in our waterways. To cover a site, please contact Alena Rosen at 202.580.9045 or email [email protected]

Elected officials participating at cleanup sites throughout the watershed include:

  • Councilmember David Grosso, Washington, DC
  • Councilmember Muriel Bowser, 4th Ward, DC
  • Delegate Barbara Frush, 21st District, MD
  • Commissioner Candice Quinn Kelly, Charles County, MD
  • Commissioner Jack Sims, District Heights, MD
  • Councilman Nicholas Scarpelli, Cumberland, MD
  • Councilwoman Julie Palakovich Carr, Rockville, MD
  • Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak, Frederick, MD
  • Senator Adam Ebbin, District 30, VA
  • Chairman Mark Sicjkesm 43rd District, VA
  • Delegate David Bulova, 37th District, VA
  • Delegate Alfonso H. Lopez, 49th District, VA
  • Delegate Marcus Simon, 53rd District, VA
  • Delegate Michael Folk, 63rd District, WV

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