Cleaning up the creek
Earth Day event promotes health of freshwater estuary
Lackey students join environmental group for Earth Day event
In honor of Earth Day, April 22, 34 students from Henry E. Lackey High School took part in a “spring cleaning” at Mattawoman Creek near the school, picking up bottles, metal and other debris that has accumulated near the creek.
Racheal Rizor, AP environmental sciences and biology teacher at Lackey, said cleaning up the creek was also an educational opportunity for her students, many of whom took part.
“We’re trying to get the kids aware that it exists, so close to the school, and how important it is,” Rizor said. “The [Chesapeake] Bay is so hugely important to everyone in this region, whether it’s a direct effect or indirect effect. This creek feeds into the bay, and it’s the closest impact we have to the Chesapeake Bay.”
The clean-up took place under the direction of the Mattawoman Watershed Society.
Jim Long, president of the Mattawoman Watershed Society, said the organization exists to protect the Mattawoman watershed, which feeds into the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.
Long said Mattawoman Creek was a tidal freshwater estuary, which he said is uncommon.
Long noted that Mattawoman Creek is an important spawning site for river herring.
“We’re connected to the ocean,” Long said. “Mattawoman flows into the Potomac River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay, and that flows into the Atlantic Ocean. These fish bring all the energy that they consume in the ocean to come back here to spawn.”
Long said the Mattawoman Creek is at a tipping point, due in part to rapid development in the area.
“The fish here have been going downhill for quite a while, starting in about 2005,” Long said.
Some of the students took part in a previous cleanup at the Mattawoman State Natural Environmental Area last November, Rizor said.
Lackey freshman Bishakha Oli, 15, was one of the students who took part in the November clean up.
“Our environment is deteriorating every day, so doing what we can to clean up this area is important,” Oli said.
Senior Timothy Wilmot, 18, has a family connection to the area. The trail used by the students to access the site was named after his grandfather, conservationist George Wilmot.
“To me, it’s about restoring the area to what it should be, and making sure the wildlife are not getting harmed by the debris we create,” Wilmot said.
Henry Lackey High School students Sara Coltman, Naomi Yamaguchi and Amy Chen take part in an Earth Day cleanup at Mattawoman Creek Friday.