Calling all people who are willing to get wet and muddy for the good of the environment and the community! There will be a park cleanup and educational event on Saturday, Nov. 17, between 9 a.m. and noon at Veterans Memorial Park in Woodbridge. There will also be a cleanup at that same time at Jefferson Park, which is an undeveloped park in Woodbridge.
The Prince William County Public Works Department, the Department of Parks and Recreation and Tourism, the Woodbridge District Supervisor's Office, along with the Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District and Keep Prince William Beautiful, are coordinating the events.
About 85 to 100 volunteers are needed to get the job done, said Deb Oliver, spokeswoman for the Public Works Department. "This is going to be a really large cleanup. We're going to take on Veterans Park, the area around Marumsco Acres Lake and Jefferson Park."
Marumsco Creek at Veterans Memorial Park and nearby Jefferson Park serve as a natural collection points for trash, mainly plastics, that need to be cleaned up, said Woodbridge District Supervisor's Chief of Staff Zoe Vitter. "This is a cleanup, but it's also part of a larger plan to reduce plastic use in the county, to clean up plastics. There will also be an educational component … to demonstrate what plastics do in our environment, and more specifically, in our county."
People who aren't willing to get quite as dirty will also be able to help in the cause, Vitter said. "We have opportunities for all different levels. We're going to send people out in groups. Depending on how many volunteers we get registered, we'll have them go out to different spots as a group. We have things that are appropriate for kids and people who don't have good balancing skills or don't want to get completely muddy. We'll have things for in-between groups who are willing to go out into the marshes. The people who go to Jefferson Park, behind Jefferson Plaza, those will be the hard-core people with previous experience, with their own tools."
There will also be an educational component at the Veterans Park site, Oliver said. "We're going to add in a display at the event to raise awareness about plastics in the community. Plastics wind up in our streams and they flow into the Potomac River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay, which flows into the ocean. We want to try and educate the community about using reusable bottles as opposed to continuously buying single-use plastic bottles, especially water bottles."
Oliver said people who help at the cleanup should wear sunblock and clothes they can get dirty. The organizations will provide gloves, bags, snacks and refillable water bottles.
It's also important for people to wear shoes that lace up, said Vitter. "They should come prepared to get dirty, with rubber boots if they have them, or sneakers that can be tied. I can't tell you how many teenagers we've had over the years who go into those marshes with their sneakers untied and they step right out of them."
Those interested in volunteering for the Veterans Memorial Park cleanup should register here. People who want to cleanup at Jefferson Park, a 7-acre wooded parcel which includes a segment of Marumsco Creek, should register here.
More information about the cleanups can be found at pwcgov.org/publicworks.