Thanks to participation by the newly-formed Green Towson Alliance, a regional effort to clean up streams in April will include four times as many cleanup sites in Towson as compared to those targeted in 2015, officials said.
The Green Towson Alliance is a group of environmental volunteers from Towson communities who have the common goal of creating a greener, cleaner community.
The alliance is working with Blue Water Baltimore, which is spearheading the cleanup effort, called Project Clean Stream, for the Baltimore region.
That effort, in turn, is part of a larger clean-water effort undertaken by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, an environmental group that is leading cleanups during April in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Project Clean Stream has taken place during each of the past 13 springs, with a goal of cleaning up the environment and bringing awareness to environmental issues.
Last year, volunteers removed debris and litter from two sites near streams in Towson. This year, Green Towson Alliance members are leading cleanups at eight sites along branches of Towson Run and Herring Run during April.
"We really want to encourage people to get out and help, and I think this gives them a real opportunity to do that," Green Towson Alliance founder Dr. Carol Newill said of the events scheduled for the Towson area.
The streams the alliance has chosen empty into Chesapeake Bay eventually. Herring Run flows east into the Back River, then into the bay; the Towson Run flows into the Jones Falls Tributary, which then moves beneath Baltimore city and into the Inner Harbor.
"We want to make the stream healthy and beautiful," Newill said. "Rather than being filled with plastic bags and cans."
Picking up trash from the ground around the streams before it reaches the water is much easier than doing the clean-up downstream, Blue Water Baltimore volunteer program manager Katie Dix said.
More than 90 cleanups are planned for Baltimore City and county. Last year, Blue Water Baltimore volunteers picked up 93,000 pounds of trash in the greater Baltimore area during April.
Green Towson Alliance "has been very proactive at identifying sites that need help," Dix said. "We have a small staff. There's no way we could have led that many clean-ups."
One facet of Project Clean Stream is getting volunteers to become aware of the streams in their community, so they'll continue to take care of the waterways throughout the year
In addition to picking up litter from the areas around and inside the streams, the volunteers will be working to remove invasive vines, such as English ivy, which choke out native species by taking up nutrients and strangling trees.
"Towson has a terrible problem with those right now," Newill said. "They're going to kill the trees, and the trees are stabilizing the stream banks"
Green Towson Alliance is leading cleanups at these locations on April 2: Pickersgill; West Towson YMCA; Ruxton Riderwood stream; Southland Hills; and Overlook Park. On April 16 events are scheduled at Radebaugh Park and the Ridgeleigh Neighborhood. On April 24 a cleanup is slated at Stoneleigh Elementary School.