Students do heavy lifting for Back River cleanup
Talk about a nasty job that somebody's got to do! Four area college students who may have dreamed earlier of spending their summers in other ways are pulling tires and debris out of Back River instead - and finding it satisfying, if a bit mucky.
"I wanted to feel like I was making a difference," said Molly Williams, 21, of Cockeysville.
The difference is a huge pile of tires and garbage bags full of other debris that they've collected, with the help of some old-timers (aka age 30 and above) and Baltimore County, waiting on the bank for removal and proper disposal. Read my story about their efforts in The Baltimore Sun. And check out the video, shot by The Sun's Algerina Perna to see what a difference they've made in how one stretch of the Chesapeake Bay tributary has been cleaned up.
As much debris as the kids have pulled from Back River in the past 2 1/2 weeks, there's plenty more to do. The banks are still littered with trash. The Back River Restoration Committee, an energetic newcomer on the community action scene, has a big cleanup planned Saturday, 9 am to 2 pm. The kids will be there, but they could use plenty of help. Volunteers should meet at the Essex Park & Ridge on Eastern Boulevard by the Back River bridge. p>
It'll take a lot more to restore this river, of course. But the collegiate cleanup crew has shown what the river can look like if only Baltimore city and county residents in the 55-square-mile Back River watershed can be persuaded to stop littering and clean up their streets and neighborhoods. Otherwise, the labors of these hard-working, idealistic kids will be buried under another torrent of trash washed down the storm drains and creeks the next time it rains.
Impaired as it still is, Back River boasts some beautiful natural vistas, and some signs of life. Not all of them are welcome, as I reported last week on the midges swarming there, bedeviling boat owners and waterfront residents. Those, ironically enough, may also be a sign of life returning to the river. A Towson University biologists suggests that the nonbiting flies can be pretty hardy, so may be among the first things to flourish in an ecosystem still lacking the fish and other bug predators that could keep their numbers in check. So they're possibly a hopeful sign, one that can lead to others with still more work on the river and on the land throughout the watershed.
;(Baltimore Sun photo and video by Algerina Perna)