Search Results

Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

9:00 am - 12:00 pm Potomac River Watershed Cleanup
Alice Ferguson Foundation, Accokeek Maryland

Photo Essay: 29th Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

May 14th, 2017

In April 2017, thousands of volunteers across the region came out to help clean up their neighborhoods, parks, and waterways. It’s impossible to truly capture the spirit and energy of this annual event, but we gave it a go with these 28 photos…Click to scroll through the images.

Potomac River Watershed Cleanup at Riley’s Lock

April 21st, 2015

By Hannah Seligman, Intern, Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative

The Potomac River offers fun, healthy, and educational adventures, and each April the Alice Ferguson Foundation partners with hundreds of local community groups to clean up the watershed during our annual Potomac Cleanup. As part of our cleanup events this year, I participated in the Riley’s Lock Cleanup on the C&O Canal. Kay Fulcomer, a longtime river activist, has led a cleanup here for eight consecutive years. Calleva Outdoors Education provided canoes, life jackets, and paddles for volunteers, and AFF provided gloves and large, heavy duty bags for trash and recycling.

reillys lock 2We launched our canoes from the Seneca Landing boat ramp around 10am and spread across Seneca Creek, the mouth of the Potomac River, and downriver to Violettes Lock. After about three hours on the water we collected 17 full bags of trash, 12 full bags of recyclables (the bulk being plastic or glass beverage bottles), one mini refrigerator, one fifty-five gallon barrel, fishing hooks and lures, one tire, one steel lunch tray, sports balls and lots of Styrofoam. The C&O Canal National Historic Park kindly assists us in disposal of all trash. Jim Heins of the C&O Canal Association – also a leader of several cleanup sites – personally sorts through the recycling bags to ensure that they will be approved at the recycling facility.

Crawling along the banks of the river, reaching to pick up trash, brought me a huge surge of inspiration and joy. Despite the thick bugs I knew I would swallow if I opened my mouth, I could not convince my muscles otherwise. I was smiling and motivated from the feeling of community. I’ve been an intern with the AFF since March, and my goal for this internship is to connect as many people as possible to their local watershed and to promote a sense of belonging to encourage community rapport. Ultimately, I would like to see cleanups be closely affiliated with ecology education to further engage youth.

Reilly lock 1Every action on land will affect the river, and it’s time to awaken our awareness to consumption patterns. The banks along the waterways constantly collect debris. Natural strainers in the water, such as tree matter and broken branches, also accumulate trash floating in the river. Trash is deadly to wildlife and increases toxins to be filtered out of our drinking water. Here are some ways to be part of the solution: Take control; take care of your trash. Do not litter and report any illegal dumping to your county or other jurisdiction. Make sure your trash and recycling receptacles have a secure lid and are not overflowing when you put them on the street for pickup. Volunteer at a community cleanup! “The Potomac River naturally brings good people together,” said Cleanup leader Fulcomer, and The Riley’s Lock Cleanup was a successful community event. Volunteers included community residents, Potomac River Keeper Dean Naujoks, the Canoe Cruisers Association, the Monocacy Canoe Club, Blue Ridge Voyageurs, Seneca Creek Watershed Partners, the Muddy Branch Alliance, Calleva Outdoors, and Montgomery Parks. Thank you to everyone who came out to make a difference and beautify our local waterways! It’s never too late to get involved. Our ultimate goal is a Trash Free Potomac. Contact [email protected] or 301-292-5665 to learn more and find out about upcoming events.

Potomac River Watershed Cleanup: Saturday April 5th Family Fun

March 25th, 2014

Guest post by Jessica McFadden, Blogger

Your family can get a jump on environmental activism (and fun!) before Earth Day by participating Saturday April 5th in the largest effort to clean both the Anacostia and Potomac watersheds, the annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

This area-wide Cleanup offers many local sites where families can help clean litter from along streams and river banks. From Sligo Creek to Rock Creek Park to Northwest Branch, you can find a local clean-up site that is close to your home and close to your heart. Check out the map for locations throughout the DC Metro area in DC, Maryland and Virginia where you and your kids can serve and learn.

Cleanup in VALocal cleanup events mobilize volunteers young and old to pick up the trash littering our watersheds, and litter removal has a huge impact on animals in multiple ecosystems. Additionally, the Alice Ferguson foundation website states, “The Cleanup provides a transforming experience that engages citizens and community leaders and generates momentum for change.”

My favorite local environmental educator and activist, Jennifer Chambers of Hiking Along, says, “Kids like to feel impassioned that they are making a difference, and removing litter is an easy and productive way to feel positive about doing that.”

Jennifer Chambers is also the author of the great book for kids which bring environmentalism to their level, Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle. It is the story of a water bottle’s journey in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and Atlantic Ocean. Upon reaching a storm drain, the personified water bottle travels the streams and rivers of Washington, D.C., meeting animals along its ride. Each animal—from the water strider to the loggerhead turtle—teaches the water bottle about itself, its origins, its journey, and those of other pollutants in the watershed. Alima is the five-year old water bottle’s heroine; making us all believe we can be one too. 100% of the profit from the sale of the book is being equally divided between the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics program.

This book is a great read to share with your kids before or after participating in the April 5th clean up closest to your home! I will be reading with Charlie, Eve and Alice before we head to one of the 12 Silver Spring clean up locations we have to choose from. Please join us.

See original post here.

26th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup TRASH-A-THON

Join the Trash-A-Thon and contribute to the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative’s efforts to solve our area’s serious litter problem. Local governments, businesses, and community groups are committed to this movement, but we need the support of watershed citizens like you to succeed!

Structured like a walk-a-thon, participants ask family, friends, and neighbors to sponsor their clean-up efforts. All proceeds go towards the 26th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup and the year-round efforts of the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, which works to get the institutions, infrastructure, and policies in place to see a lasting reduction in litter.

2013 road clean up springThe top three fundraisers will receive amazing prizes from REI!
First Place Prize:
The $300 Package, which includes an REI Half Dome 2 Tent and two REI Flash 22 Packs

Second Place Prize:
The $150 Package, which includes an REI Flex Lite Chair and the REI Trail 25 Pack

Third Place Prize:
$50 Package, which includes an REI  Flash 22 pack

How to Participate in the Trash-A-Thon


  1. Complete this 2014 Participation Agreement and return it to the Cleanup Coordinator at the Alice Ferguson Foundation (contact information below) as soon as possible.
  2. Cleanup Coordinator
    Alice Ferguson Foundation
    2001 Bryan Point Road,  Accokeek, Maryland 20607
    Tel: 301-292-5665  Fax:  301-292-1070
    [email protected]

  • Once your Participation Agreement is received, you will be sent a Trash-A-Thon Pledge Sheet and can begin to sign up your sponsors
  • Find your sponsors by ask co-workers, family, friends, neighbors who are not picking up trash during the cleanup to make a donation instead.
  • Go have fun and pick up trash
  • Return your Trash-A-Thon Cover Sheet, Pledge Sheet, and donations through one of the following ways:
    • Collect your donations from your sponsors and send them along with your Trash-A-Thon Cover Sheet and Pledge Sheet  to Alena Rosen (see address above) by May 2, 2014.
    • Mail, scan, or fax us your Trash-A-Thon Cover Sheet and Pledge Sheet and have your sponsors pledge online at  by May 2, 2014.
    • Mail, scan, or fax us your Trash-A-Thon Cover Sheet and Pledge Sheet and have your sponsors mail their donations directly to Alena Rosen(address below)   by May 2, 2014. 

    *All checks should be made out to the Alice Ferguson Foundation


    Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

    Connecting people to their local watershed

    The 32nd Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup will be on Saturday, April 18, 2020. There will be events throughout the entire month of April.

    volunteer-button site-leader-button 

    The Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup has become a decisive catalyst for progress that ignites people’s interest and passion for the environment and community action. The largest regional event of its kind, the Cleanup provides a transforming experience that engages residents and community leaders and generates momentum for change.The Potomac River Watershed Cleanup has grown from a small shoreline cleanup at Piscataway National Park to a watershed wide network. What started as a few cleanup events along the Potomac River is now a regional event spanning Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

    31st Annual Potomac River Cleanup April 13th, 2019

    April 5th, 2019

    Thousands of Volunteers to Participate in the 
    31th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup


    Washington DC  – Thousands of residents across Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia will come together on Saturday, April 13 to protect the rivers we love and the water we drink as part of the 31th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup (#PotomacCleanup)

    Since 1989, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has coordinated the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup every April, engaging more than 150,000 volunteers, nearly 500 partner organizations, and removing more than 7.5 million pounds of trash from the Potomac River Watershed.

    Results from last year’s 30th Anniversary Cleanup included:

    • More than 9,500 Volunteers
    • 346,000 pounds of trash collected
    • 267 Cleanup Sites Across Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia  

    Where: Cleanups will be held at hundreds of sites throughout the Potomac Watershed, which includes the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  Local DC  sites with 50+ expected volunteers include Fletchers CoveWashington Canoe ClubPierce MillNational ZooKenilworth Aquatic GardensAnacostia Park.  Interested in different locations? Click here for scheduled cleanup sites.

    When:  The majority of cleanups will be held on Saturday, April 13, 2019, from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. There will be additional cleanups scheduled throughout the month.

    Who: Thousands of volunteers from around the watershed including elected officials, community businesses and leaders, NGOs, teachers, and government agency leaders.

     The annual Cleanup is part of the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiativewhich seeks to connect people to their local watershed with the ultimate goal of creating clean land, safe water and healthy lives. The data gathered from the hundreds of sites during cleanups in the month of April is used throughout the year to track trash hot spots, mark progress and target policies intended to reduce litter in the region.

    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.  Learn more at

    More Than 300,000 Pounds of Trash Collected and Removed During Regional Cleanup Event

    June 11th, 2018

    Thousands of volunteers participate in this year’s 30th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

    Drawing on data collected from 267 cleanup events across Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and West Virginia, more than 9,700 volunteers collected 346,444 pounds of trash throughout the Potomac River watershed at this year’s Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. Several hundred organizations and groups partner in the effort each year.

    “We are honored to be doing our small part for a healthy, clean river by connecting people and local organizations with the resources, support, and information they need to do community cleanups in their neighborhoods,” said Lori Arguelles, president and CEO of the Alice Ferguson Foundation. “The Potomac is one of the largest rivers that flows into the Chesapeake Bay, and, if you live in the area, it’s very likely that the river is your source of drinking and washing water. Littering, runoff, and trash contribute to a widespread problem that affects everyone.”

    Nearly 90% of the 300 cleanup events organized throughout the month of April reported on the pounds of trash collected, the number of volunteers, and the instances of commonly found items at their cleanup sites. This year, volunteers reported collecting 862 tires, 11,034 plastic bags, 9,726 plastic straws, and 6,871 cigarettes collected from communities, parks, waterways and other locations across the region.

    This year, the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup participated in the Year of the Anacostia celebration by highlighting the nearly 50 cleanup events that happened within the Anacostia River watershed.

    “The Year of the Anacostia is all about enjoying the Anacostia River and its parklands and building a better social and environmental future for the Nation’s Capital. The Alice Ferguson Foundation is doing critically important work teaching children and adults to understand, love and conserve the Anacostia,” Doug Siglin, executive director of the Anacostia Waterfront Trust.

    The annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup is one of many of the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s programs designed to promote environmental sustainability in the region and connect people to the natural world. The Foundation’s Regional Litter Prevention Campaign, which empowers communities to “Take Control, Take Care of Your Trash,” led to a 30% reduction in observable littering behavior in the targeted District of Columbia neighborhoods between 2013 and 2015. Another program, Trash Free Schools, engages more than 2,000 students annually from more than 20 schools throughout the DC metro region.

    Since it began thirty years ago, the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup has mobilized more than 150,000 volunteers to remove more than 7 million pounds of trash.

    The Alice Ferguson Foundation’s educational programs unite students, educators, park rangers, communities, regional organizations, and government agencies throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to promote the environmental sustainability of the Potomac River watershed.

    Celebrating Three Decades of Volunteers Organizing for a Cleaner Potomac River Watershed

    April 18th, 2018

    One Weekend, More than 150 Trash Cleanups in Maryland, Virginia, & DC


    This past Saturday, the Alice Ferguson Foundation and dozens of partners celebrated the 30th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. More than 150 trash cleanup events occurred throughout the Potomac River Watershed, including events in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia & West Virginia. 


    The Potomac River is the source of drinking water for 80% of the residents within the watershed. With increasing attention on the beauty of our region’s waterways, and the immediate threat of plastic pollution, volunteers are taking action. Since 1989, more than 150,000 volunteers have collectively prevented 7 million pounds of trash from entering the Potomac River. As part of the region-wide cleanup efforts, event partner Rock Creek Conservancy hosted the 10th annual Extreme Cleanup, coordinating nearly 30 events in one of the nation’s first urban park spaces, Rock Creek Park, and throughout the Rock Creek watershed.

    During Potomac River Watershed Cleanups, volunteers collect citizen science data, including total pounds of trash removed and most common trash items. The data successfully serves to implement waste-reduction legislation, including the plastic bag fees and the Anacostia River Styrofoam ban.

    Plastic drinking straws are a focus for this year’s cleanup.  Plastic straws are one of the top 10 items found at cleanups. In the USA, 500 million drinking straws are used every day.

    “This single-use, plastic item cannot be recycled or composted and they are ending up in our waterways and our communities,” said Hannah Seligman, Alice Ferguson Foundation volunteer coordinator. “Last weekend, volunteers at an event counted and removed 564 straws in just two hours from a small stretch of a stream..”

    The Potomac River Watershed Cleanup is participating in the Year of the Anacostia celebration by highlighting the nearly 50 cleanup events happening within the Anacostia River watershed. One of the event partners, the Anacostia Watershed Society, will host the Annual Earth Day Cleanup on Saturday, April 21.

    “The Anacostia River is on the verge of being restored to swimmable and fishable, thanks to great partners like the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Together we’re celebrating the Year of the Anacostia by participating in clean ups and enjoying the tremendous recreational opportunities offered by the Anacostia River,” said Jim Foster, President of the Anacostia Watershed Society.

    With more than 300 #PotomacCleanup events planned throughout the watershed this April, community leaders, regional stakeholders, and volunteers #makewaves (YOTA hashtag) for the water we drink and the rivers we love. You can still join an event this April. Visit to learn more.

    The Alice Ferguson Foundation’s educational programs unite students, educators, park rangers, communities, regional organizations, and government agencies throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to promote the environmental sustainability of the Potomac River watershed.

    11th Annual Potomac Watershed Trash Summit

    Transforming Communities for Clean Land, Safe Water, & Healthy Lives


    November 16, 2017


    The 11th Annual Trash Summit brought together hundreds of community members, business leaders, elected officials, non-profit partners and municipal staff to explore local to regional solutions. Hosted at Nationals Park, beside the Anacostia River, the event included a variety of round table discussions and panels with local leaders, presentations on the topic, and an awards ceremony recognizing outstanding community members working towards a trash free watershed. The event also included boat tours on the Anacostia River. 

    Roundtable Notes:

     Topical    Geographic







    County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III

    Mayor Muriel Bowser

    County Executive Ike Leggett

    Maryland Secretary Ben Grumbles

    Rachael Miller | The Rozalia Project

    Adam Ortiz | Prince George’s County Department of the Environment

     Katie Register | Clean Virginia Waterways  Jason Rolfe | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  




    More Than 10 Years of Impact

    Since 2006, the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Trash Summit has brought together elected officials, business leaders, community activists, and municipal managers to explore local and regional policies and efforts to reduce trash in communities along the Potomac River Watershed, particularly the Anacostia River.



    This event was made possible with the generous support from our sponsors.


    For more information please contact [email protected]