Troop 1188 sees the merit in clean streams
There are about 1,100 miles of streams in Prince William County. In the Adopt-A-Stream program, volunteers agree to pick up litter along their adopted stream segment of at least ¼ mile, once (preferably twice) a year for a minimum two year commitment. Boy Scout Troop 1188 in Manassas adopted Winter's Branch in 2001 and two years later created an Adopt-A-Stream Patch to recognize scouts who help keep the local waterway litter-free. The Adopt-A-Stream Program is a great match for scouting, as the program stresses both community service and enjoyment of the natural world.
Top Ten Litter Items from Virginia Waterways Cleanups
1. beverage bottles (plastic, 2 liters or less)
2. cigarettes/cigarette filters
3. bags (plastic)
4. food wrappers/containers
5. cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons
6. beverage cans
7. glass beverage bottles
8. caps, lids
9. building materials
Most unusual items found in streams in Prince William County 2015:
Troop 1188 schedules two Adopt-a-stream cleanup days a year, one in the spring and another in the fall. All Scouts are asked to participate in this service project to improve our community and the environment. Our 2017 and 2018 Adopt-a-Stream events will be on Tuesday April 11, 2017 from 6-8pm; Tuesday October 10, 2017 from 6-8pm; Tuesday April 10, 2018 from 6-8pm; Tuesday October 9, 2018 from 6-8pm.
Why does Troop 1188 clean Winter’s Branch?
The Adopt-A-Stream helps the Scout with requirements for environmental science. To earn the badge, scouts not only take part in stream clean-ups, they also study about watersheds and urban stormwater controls. Aspiring Eagle Scouts are required to earn an environmental science merit badge. Our scouts, mostly middle-schoolers, clean Winter's Branch twice a year. They love to splash in the stream and goof off; it's not all work… They're finding little minnows and every once in awhile a crayfish. They see the ducks. All in our suburban environment in Manassas, Virginia.
Aquatic Litter and Debris—Impacts
Litter not only detracts from the beauty of a riverside park or beach, but also can be a health and safety hazard for humans and aquatic wildlife. Another big impact of litter is the cost to society. Millions of dollars are spent every year in Virginia by state and local governments, parks, schools, and businesses to pick up litter.
Impacts on Water Quality
Debris can also affect the water quality by adding chemicals to the water. Construction waste illegally dumped in a stream can include buckets that once held paints, solvents, and other chemicals that can enter the water. Cigarette butts and some other littered items contain toxic chemicals that leach into the water.
Impacts on Aquatic Animals—Entanglement and Ingestion
Aquatic debris can be particularly dangerous and often lethal to wildlife. Each year, more than 100,000 marine mammals die when they ingest debris or become entangled in ropes, fishing line, fishing nets, and other debris dumped into the ocean. As many as 2 million seabirds also die every year due to debris ingestion and entanglement. Fishing line, fishing nets, strapping bands, and six-pack rings can hamper the mobility of aquatic animals. Once entangled, animals have trouble eating, breathing, or swimming, all of which can have fatal results.
Impacts on Human Health and Safety
Trash in our waterways can also affect human health and safety. Hazards include glass and metal left on the beach, or hospital needles and syringes that can carry disease. Fishermen and recreational boaters can also be endangered as nets and monofilament fishing line wrap around a boat's propeller. Plastic sheeting and bags can also block the cooling intakes on boats. Such damage is hazardous and costly in terms of repair and lost fishing time.
Economic Impacts from Aquatic Debris
A tremendous amount of time, effort, and machinery is devoted in Virginia to cleaning up litter on the land and in our waterways. Many Virginian coastal communities and parks have regular beach sweeping to remove trash left behind by visitors. Virginia's Department of Transportation spends more than $6 million to remove litter from our roadsides in addition to the thousands of hours Adopt-A-Highway volunteers spend picking it up.