Clean­ing up the creek

Earth Day event pro­motes health of fresh­wa­ter es­tu­ary

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews

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.

STAFF PHOTOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Henry Lackey High School stu­dents Sara Colt­man, Naomi Ya­m­aguchi and Amy Chen take part in an Earth Day cleanup at Mat­ta­woman Creek Fri­day.

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