The Importance of Clean Water to Herd Health

Nordstrom April 2016On his first week on the job as a veterinarian back in 1993, Scott Nordstrom treated a case that would stick with him the rest of his life. Shockingly, half of a herd of cattle he examined had died. It turned out that they had been struck by Bovine Viral Disease (BVD), a fatal condition transmitted from the intestines of one animal to the mouth of another.

So Nordstrom set about finding out how they got the disease. The next week, he was called to a farm just upstream with another case of BVD. He traced the source of the outbreak to that operation. "The stream carried the pathogens downstream, spreading it from one farm to the next," according to Nordstrom.

Since then, he's found time and again that as long as cattle are allowed into waterways they are at risk of catching diseases from farms upstream. "The biosecurity program for your cattle herd is no better than the worst farm upstream," says Nordstrom, who is Director of Cattle Technical Services for an animal health company. "If there is a disease outbreak in the herd upstream or even if they are just carriers of infectious organisms and they defecate in the stream, your animals are at risk if they drink from that stream."

Nordstrom travels all over the country to test vaccines for his animal health company. "In the large operations I have been on, they would never, ever, consider having their animals exposed to a stream or any other body of water," he says. "It's just too risky—for both livestock and people."

"Clearly, at least 50 percent of all cattle diseases in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are transmitted through the fecal-oral pathway," stresses Nordstrom. "Several of the big diseases in cattle are carried by water. These include BVD, E.coli, salmonella, leptospirosis, and mastitis." Symptoms of these diseases include fever, lethargy, dehydration, abortion, and death.

Vaccinating animals is a first line of defense against many diseases. But Nordstrom stresses that "the second line of defense is to fence livestock out of potentially infected waters."

There are many programs that include funding and technical assistance to help producers fence waterways and provide alternative sources of water for drinking. Nordstrom participated in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program on his own farm. "We did it for herd health reasons and, besides, I feel good that the water leaving our farm is not going to infect animals downstream," he says.

—Bobby Whitescarver  
Whitescarver lives in Swoope, Va. For more information, visit his website.

Learn more about how farmers across the watershed are working to improve both water quality and farm productivity in our Farmers' Success Stories series.

 


Photo of the Week: No Better Place on Earth Than Here

SharonSylvia

Sunset on the Great Wicomico River, just after witnessing a large pod of dolphins playing near Reedville. An awesome day from start to finish.

I grew up spending weekends in Reedville on the Northern Neck. My memories of crabbing, fishing, and swimming were so wonderful. I bought a cottage on Whays Creek in 2002 to continue the family tradition. We spend every weekend exploring the Chesapeake Bay—kayaking, fishing, and taking photos of sunrises and sunsets! We love the Chespeake Bay and the peace and beauty she provides.

There is no better place on earth than here.

—Sharon Sylvia

Ensure that Sharon and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!


Making a Difference with Día de la Bahía


Haz clic aquí para la versión en Español.

Oscar Contreras
Oscar Contreras and family.

Among the thousands of volunteers across Virginia who came together on Clean the Bay Day, this year there was a big presence from the Hispanic community. Like every year of the past 28 years, volunteers got together to clean up trash from beaches and parks with rivers and streams that reach the Chesapeake Bay. But for the first time we launched bilingual sites for this Virginian tradition, which is now also known as Día de la Bahía.

Oscar Contreras took his two kids to Pocahontas State Park, where from a canoe they picked up trash. "Across human history, the perfect place to start a civilization has always been near rivers and beautiful places. These rivers feed the Bay, taking water with them. Unfortunately, they also carry trash. That affects the Bay and the environment," Contreras said in his radio program Community Focus on Radio Poder WBTK.

The Richmond area had two bilingual sites in this massive cleanup campaign, including Ancarrow's Landing and Pocahontas State Park. In total, more than 50 volunteers from the Hispanic community helped out, with most of them coming from Richmond's Sacred Heart Center.

Karina Murcia and her mother Dania Hernandez
Karina Murcia and her mother Dania Hernandez.

It was early on a hot Saturday morning, but the volunteers still came. They wanted to take care of the environment and animals, to raise awareness, to feel proud after helping, and to contribute to the community.

Many people came with the whole family, picking up bottles, plastic, fishing line, clothing, aluminum, and even construction materials.Dania Hernández was surprised by how much trash she found at Ancarrow's Landing. "It's a lot of trash. It's sad how people can destroy the environment," Hernández said. But she hopes that she's making a difference. "The people who are here fishing see that we are picking up trash. I hope that we're raising awareness so that they don't just leave their trash behind, but instead pick up any they have with them."

Marvin C (pink shirt) and Friends
Marvin C. (far right) and friends.

Karina Murcia is nine years old and was very happy to help. "I like what we're doing. It's really important to me," Karina says. "The animals need to live, and if they eat bad things they could die."

Alicia is only 13 years old, but she knows exactly why she came to help. "We are cleaning up because eventually if it rains it's going to wash off to the river. Fishing season is coming and if the fish eats it then we are going to eat it," Alicia says. "Because the weather and the erosion will take this trash into the water, it's going to be dangerous."

Many volunteers said they felt really good after the cleanup, including Marvin Cáceres, originally from Honduras. "After you finish you feel proud of yourself, just because you know that you are saving nature," according to Cáceres. "It is my first time doing this, I wasn't familiar with the Foundation or the program. But I really like it because we can show our kids and they are going to pass it on. Save the Bay, brother!"

—Ana Martínez

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Haciendo la Diferencia en el Día de la Bahía

 
Click here for the English translation of the following blog post.

Oscar Contreras
Oscar Contreras y su familia.

Entre los miles de voluntarios que se reunieron para Clean the Bay Day en Virginia, este año contamos con un gran acto de presencia de la comunidad hispana. De hecho, por primera vez a esta tradición se le conoce como Día de la Bahía. Como cada año por 28 años consecutivos, los voluntarios se reunieron para limpiar basura tirada en las playas y parques con ríos y arroyos que llegan a la Bahía de Chesapeake.

Oscar Contreras llevó a sus hijos a Pocahontas State Park, donde desde una canoa buscaron remover basura. “En la historia humana los lugares perfectos para comenzar una civilización siempre han sido alrededor de los ríos y lugares hermosos. Estos ríos se desembocan en la Bahía, llevan agua, pero lamentablemente también llevan la basura. Eso afecta a la bahía y al medio ambiente,” dice Contreras en su programa de radio enfoque a la comunidad en Radio Poder WBTK.

Marvin C (pink shirt) and Friends
De derecho a izquierda: Marvin C., Juan Ortiz y Ricardo O.

Este año en la campaña de limpieza masiva contamos con dos sitios bilingües: Ancarrow's Landing y Pocahontas State Park. En total más de 50 voluntarios de la comunidad hispana del área de Richmond asistieron a ayudar. La gran mayoría vinieron de Sacred Heart Center en Richmond.

Era un sábado muy temprano en la mañana y con mucho calor. Pero a los voluntarios presentes les motivaron diferentes cosas, desde cuidar el medio ambiente y los animales, crear más conciencia, sentir orgullo después de ayudar y aportar positivamente a la comunidad.

Dania Hernández estaba impresionada por la cantidad de basura que encontró en Ancarrow’s Landing.  “Es mucha basura. Es lamentable como las personas pueden destruir el medio ambiente,” dice Hernández. Pero espera que está haciendo la diferencia. “La gente que está aquí pescando, nos ve que estamos recogiendo basura, y espero que con esto estamos creando conciencia que no la tiren y que recojan la basura que tengan consigo.”

Karina Murcia and her mother Dania Hernandez
Karina Murcia y su mamá Dania Hernández.

Muchos llegaron con toda la familia, recogiendo botellas, plástico, hilo de pesca, ropa, aluminio, y hasta desechos de construcción.

Karina Murcia tiene nueve años de edad y estaba feliz de poder ayudar ese día. “Me gusta lo que estamos haciendo, es muy importante para mí,” dice Karina. “Los animales necesitan vivir, si comen cosas malas para ellos se pueden morir.” 

Alicia tiene apenas trece años y sabe perfectamente por que vino a ayudar. “Estamos limpiando porque eventualmente cuando llueva la basura va a llegar al río, y así llega a los peces, la temporada de pesca viene y nos vamos a comer esa basura,” dice Alicia. “La lluvia y la erosión harán que esa basura llegue al agua y será peligroso.”

Los voluntarios se sentían muy bien al final de la campaña de limpieza, como Marvin Cáceres originario de Honduras. “Nos sentimos orgullosos porque nos damos cuenta que estamos salvando la naturaleza," según Cáceres. “Es la primera vez que hago esto, no estaba familiarizado con la Fundación Chesapeake Bay ni con el programa. Pero me gusta mucho porque podemos enseñar a nuestros hijos y ellos van a empezar una tradición. Invito a todos a salvar la Bahía, brother!”

—Ana Martínez

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6,000 Virginians Giving Back to the Bay

IMG_20160604_102908Saturday June 4 marked the 28th Annual Clean the Bay Day, a yearly seismic eruption of volunteers, all descending on waterways throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia to give a little back. And all those small individual efforts had a massive cumulative effect once again.

As CBF's single largest annual clean-up event—and one of the largest volunteer programs in Virginia—Clean the Bay Day brought several thousand people together to clean up harmful debris and litter from hundreds of miles of streams and shoreline in just three short hours!

In the birthplace of the program, all seven cities of the Hampton Roads area were absolutely overflowing with volunteers. The Navy had a precedent-setting turnout and even ran out of places to clean! Every state park in the Chesapeake watershed in Virginia (22 total) fielded clean-up teams. Our clean-up sites in Richmond and Charlottesville specifically saw a tremendous spike in volunteers this year. And we had our first bilingual "Día de la Bahía" clean-up event, which attracted more than 50 volunteers from the Richmond-area Latino community. Clean the Bay Day also helped kick off the very first #ChesapeakeBay Awareness Week, which continues through June 12. The enormity of this event never ceases to amaze.

NewNumbers are still rolling in, but here are the impressive stats that we've tallied thus far from the day's events:

  • Approximately 6,000 volunteers;

  • Roughly 138,000 pounds of debris removed;

  • More than 440 miles of streams and shoreline cleaned; 

  • All in just three hours;

  • A mix of 20 elected officials (federal, state, and local), government appointees, and more participated; DSC_0578

  • Approximately 25 organizations participated;

  • 13 military installations took part, including more than 1,200 enlisted and their families;

  • 22 Virginia State Parks participated; 

  • 265 clean-up sites across Virginia.


As usual, the most common items found during the cleanup were plastic bottles, plastic bags, and cigarette butts. But household appliances, automobile parts (especially tires), furniture, shopping 1carts, ghost crab pots, and construction debris were a big part of the overall yield. Volunteers were also surprised by many strange finds including a lottery ticket station, a crock pot, a jet ski, a complete car transmission and an axle, multiple mattresses, a teddy bear with Mardi Gras beads, an enormous stuffed bear, a headless G.I. Joe doll, a taxidermy deer head, a screen door, a smart phone, a walkie-talkie, and two kitchen sinks.

Since 1989, Clean the Bay Day has engaged approximately 146,000 volunteers who have removed more than 6.4 million pounds of debris from more than 6,900 miles of shoreline.

—Tanner Council, Hampton Roads Grassroots Coordinator

Check out more photos from the day in our Facebook Photo Album.


Farmer Spotlight: Sassafras Creek Farm

Dave and Jen in high tunnel 2015In honor of Military Appreciation Month, our latest Farmer Spotlight story features military couple David and Jennifer Paulk who went from serving our country to now serving our community. The former suburbanites never imagined that their small traveling backyard garden would one day inspire them to begin their own farming operation, Sassafras Creek Farm, in St. Mary's County, Maryland.

After serving in the United States Navy for 26 years, David began considering second careers as a veteran. In 2011, he applied for the Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (CASA) Beginner Farmer Training Program where he apprenticed once a week at Calvert's Gift Farm in Baltimore County. Through his apprenticeship, he was able to learn the ins and outs of a small, organic farm.

20141016_104246Paulk explains that his military career allowed him time to get to know himself. By having real life experiences " . . . veterans are well suited to farming as they are used to maintaining structure, a skill required of any successful business owner who needs to develop a business plan and marketing strategies." Financial resources, coupled with that military background, allowed David to purchase an 80-acre property in St. Mary's County.

The property, Sassafras Creek Farm, consists of 46 tillable acres with the remaining 34 acres in forest cover. Forty of the 46 acres are in constant cover crop, which are " . . . key to building what is the essence of an organic farmers' healthy soil." Two seasonal high tunnels allow the Paulks to extend their growing season, and they plan to put up a third one in the next two weeks. The couple installed a 13 kW solar panel that generates more than enough power to run the greenhouse, walk-in coolers, lighting, and more. They grow spinach, lettuce, spring mix, beets, 20160515_160553_resizedkale, turnips, and carrots in the high tunnel, which extends the season and allows them to generate revenue year round.

While David runs the day to day operations on the farm, Jennifer (also certified a Maryland Master Gardener) manages the books, organic certification, and helps on the farm despite having a full-time career as an Environmental Scientist for the Department of the Navy. David explains that growing organic is in line with their beliefs and how they want to produce their own food. The USDA Organic Certification requires a third party inspection, adds certainty to their business model, and reassures their customers that the practices they are using are best for their own health as well as the health of the land and water around them.

David's advice to someone who is considering farming is clear: " . . . don't jump off the deep end into it. I had basic skills and financial resources. Starting a farm takes a small capital something that many fresh out of college do not have." Additionally he encourages all future farmers to go work on a farm or two and see first hand every aspect that goes into farming.

The Paulks show that the dream of having one's own farm is attainable. David recommends that anyone considering an occupation in farming work on a farm whether by volunteering or as a part of an apprenticeship program. Six years after graduating from the Future Harvest CASA program, he now serves as a mentor to new beginner farmers.

The organic produce from Sassafras Creek Farm is sold through a number of venues: California Farmers Market; Chesapeake's Bounty in North Beach; MOMS organic market in Waldorf; a natural food store in Leonardtown; and on the plates of guests at farm-to-table restaurant Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore City.

We are grateful for people like David and Jennifer who not only serve their country, but now serve their community through sustainable, responsible agricultural practices.

—Kellie Rogers

Learn more about how farmers across the watershed are working to improve both water quality and farm productivity in our Farmers' Success Stories series.


Teachers on the Bay

Image003Last summer, I participated in CBF's Chesapeake Classrooms course, Teachers on the Bay, thanks to a scholarship from the Garden Club of the Northern Neck. My goal was to bring some of the participatory lessons CBF teaches back to Northumberland County Public Schools, specifically middle schoolers and my 6th grade Community Problem Solving team, which I tasked with taking on a Chesapeake Bay-related problem.

Some of my students come from families who have worked on the Chesapeake Bay for generations; others have never been out on the water. What most students and I have in common is a lack of hands-on understanding of the Bay.

The week-long teachers education program began on the Rappahannock River where we learned how to test water quality and watched the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries electrofish to monitor species, most of which were invasive blue catfish. We listed types of marsh grasses, species we sighted, including 50 bald eagles in our first hour out on the water and a nesting pair of peregrine falcons that live under the Robert O. Norris Bridge in Tappahannock. We motored part of a route once traveled by Captain John Smith, some of which has barely changed. We also learned about the threat of development to the river and Fones Cliffs, where we spotted most of the eagles.

After two days on the Rappahannock, we went out on the Bay and tested the water at about 126 feet, one of its deepest points. We spent the rest of our time at CBF's Fox Island Education Center in the middle of the Bay. We learned the purpose of marshes and climbed into thick gooey mud holes, a practice known as marsh mucking (highly recommended!). At one point, I was buzzed by what turned out to be a peregrine falcon on its way to harass some oyster catchers.

Image002Across the water, watermen from Tangier and Smith Islands scraped Bay grasses for crabs, a method that glides a mesh bag over grass beds. We, too, scraped the underwater grasses, bringing aboard oysters, crabs, pufferfish, and the occasional seahorse to observe, study, and then release. In a few months my 6th grade students would be doing the same thing, punctuated by squeals of delight, though some still apprehensive about handling a crab swiping at them.

Last year, Virginia Gov. McAuliffe signed an executive order, establishing the Environmental Literacy Challenge, a voluntary effort to increase meaningful, outdoor experiences and sustainability projects to improve student knowledge about their environment. Finding school time and money to accomplish this is a task, but I found there are resources from grants, support from local businesses as well as state and local officials who will volunteer their time.

In our county, a local environmental group, Northumberland Association for Progressive Stewardship funded a fall trip for a group of 7th and 8th grade students aboard a Waterman Heritage Tour. The trip along the Little Wicomico River and out to the Bay was modeled after the CBF teacher's program. Students counted species, learned how water quality is tested from a local shellfish sanitation official, and toured a working oyster aquaculture farm and oyster house. 

Also in the fall, my 6th grade Community Problem Solving team of 14 students spent three days at CBF's Port Isobel Education Center. Students crabbed, scraped, tried out a new tow net, did a night walk and marsh mucked. They spent time on Tangier Island visiting Mayor "Ooker" Eskridge's crab shanty where they saw shedding crabs and tried wrangling his eels. They walked the island to get a feel for life there and watched a movie at the museum about how the island is disappearing from rising sea levels, subsidence, and erosion. They were touched by the experience and back at school they announced their problem solve would be to "Save Tangier Island."

IMG_0337Their resulting two-year project encompasses raising awareness through education and fundraising to build a living shoreline to help the people of Tangier remain on their home or to help them move if it ever comes to that. The students have partnered with Tangier Town Manager Renee Tyler and participated in a webinar and other interactions with the Norfolk Division of the Army Corps of Engineers to learn more about living shorelines.

Last month, Tangier Town Manager Tyler invited the students to meet with the crew of the Polynesian Voyaging Society's Hōkūleʻa expedition when the Polynesian voyaging canoe visited Tangier. The resourceful students held a bake sale, got a grant from NAPS, and another $100 from the school superintendent so they could hire a heritage waterman to take them to Tangier. They then invited Norfolk Army Corps Commander Col. Jason Kelly, Corps Scientist David Schulte, and Virginia Institute for Marine Science Scientist Molly Mitchell. Along with Tangier's 6th graders and educators from the Hōkūleʻa, the group sat together and discussed climate change and Tangier’s fate along with the potential loss of its heritage and culture.

Community Problem Solving teams are a great way to align environmental literacy with classroom work, and CBF's teacher professional learning courses enabled me to use new lessons (and those shared by other teachers) to do just that. I have about one hour each week to pull students out of a morning class to work on their project. My team's work is entirely student driven while I coach. The students conduct research or bring in experts and plan field trips. The program usually runs for the length of a school year, but this time students are committing two years to the project due to the complexity of their problem. Community Problem Solving and environmental literacy are a great way to keep students motivated and focused on a project as they become active and knowledgeable members of their community.

 —Pamela D'Angelo Hagy
Hagy is a journalist covering the Bay for public radio and various publications as well as a part-time educator.

If you'd like to participate in a Chesapeake Classrooms teacher professional learning course this summer, see the schedule and course descriptions at www.cbf.org/CCsummer. There are still openings on a few courses!


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Summertime Fishing

Locklear Story 0416 II Sam Loustanua"How will I know when a fish bites?" "Young Sam" asked his grandfather, Sam Locklear. Both Sams and younger brother, Nate, were fishing the Severn River with me last summer. It's always a treat to have enthusiastic ten- and seven-year-old anglers aboard, especially when a trip starts like this one. The words were hardly out in the air before two chunky white perch climbed onto the teasers on Young Sam's line, nearly taking the rod out of his hands. 

We were fishing a 12-14-foot-deep restoration oyster reef near the U.S. Naval Academy. This particular reef, an underwater point jutting out into the channel, is an example of where oysters thrive. The reef is elevated in the water column where currents bring the oysters food, carry away waste, and attract other critters—like worms, barnacles, grass shrimp, and mud crabs—that in turn attract predators like white perch and rockfish. We could see the perch on my skiff's fishfinder. The Severn has more successful restoration reefs like this one—they form the happy side of this story. 

The other side isn't as pretty. With supper on ice, the Sams, Nate, and I went upriver to a 25-foot-deep reef that showed hard bottom but no fish. It's a survey site for an upcoming restoration project, so we got out an electronic temperature/salinity/oxygen meter and lowered its sensor's ten-meter cable to get a profile of the water column. As usual for summer here—and in too many other parts of the Chesapeake system—the dissolved oxygen measured below two milligrams per liter from the bottom up to about 15 feet. That's a lethal level for perch and rockfish and stressful even for crabs. In fact, on the bottom that day, the level was below 0.5 mg/l—low enough to kill worms. No wonder the fishfinder screen was blank below 15 feet. That's what a "dead zone" looks like. This is the ugly side of the story. It illustrates why we concentrate oyster restoration in shallower water. 

As Memorial Day approaches, we've got dead zones on our minds. But why do dead zones form each summer? From human-caused nitrogen pollution. Take a look at this excellent graphic from YSI, Inc. (the maker of my oxygen meter). It concentrates on the Gulf of Mexico, but the global map shows hypoxia ("the environmental phenomenon where the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the water column decreases to a level that can no longer support living aquatic organisms") all over the Earth, including the Chesapeake.

What can we do about it? We have a plan called the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, and it's slowly turning the bad stuff around while we celebrate successes like these new oyster reefs. Want to make sure that Young Sam, Nate, and thousands of other youngsters have a healthy Bay to grow up around? Click here to find out how you can help.

John Page Williams, CBF's Senior Naturalist

 


Photo of the Week: The Bay as My Home Port

Sunset_tilgman_island-5924[These are] two images from a sailing trip to Tilghman Island last summer. One is right at Knapps Narrows and the other is from the inn just north of the narrows . . . they show just a taste of the beauty that the Bay has to offer.

The Bay is a big part of my world. I live part time on my sailboat in Tracys Landing, Maryland. It is my home. I rejoice at oyster season, dream of Rockfish Bites with buffalo sauce, [admire] sunsets on the wetlands behind my marina, and love to sail from port to port tasting the many flavors of the towns along the Bay. So many parts of my life revolve around the Bay, from my brother the oyster farmer in the South River, to the many dockbars that I love to haunt, to the adventure of sailing her beautiful waters.

I am a pro photographer, and I have hundreds of thousands of images from my travels, but I always keep coming to the Bay as my home port.

—Mark Schwenk 

Ensure that Mark and future generations continue to sail and enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!

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A Park Manager Looks Back on 27 Clean the Bay Days

59093_1590688095987_7547821_nIn the spring of 1989, 16-year-old Cameron Swain went on an outing with her family in Hampton Roads to pick up trash on a beach. As a teenager, she didn't realize that the small informal cleanup would become the first ever Clean the Bay Day, now going stronger than ever as it enters its 28th year. 

Swain has watched the event grow from its grassroots infancy in the late 1980s and early 1990s to a longtime Virginia tradition that mobilizes thousands across the Commonwealth to beautify their local waterways.

In recent years, Clean the Bay Day has attracted 6,000 to 8,000 volunteers at sites stretching from coastal Virginia to Richmond, Charlottesville, the Shenandoah Valley, and Northern Virginia. In just three hours participants often pick up well over 100,000 pounds of trash.

Just as she has for nearly 20 years, on the first Saturday of June Swain will lead her own Clean the Bay Day site at False Cape State Park in Virginia Beach, where she is the assistant park manager. At False Cape, a few dozen people usually come out to clean the six miles of beach, often picking up between 500 and 1,000 pounds of trash in one morning.

"You get the same volunteers year after year. Now they are bringing their children," Swain says, recalling toddlers at the first cleanup who now come out as adults. "You see these people evolve and grow."

11066783_10153821018615943_1759498088508493681_nOver the years, participants have recovered all sorts of trash from the park's beach. "Now that I've been doing it so many years, nothing really surprises me," she says, listing everything from computer screens and light bulbs to tires and bathing suits. "You name it, it's probably washed up on the beach at one time."

When you consider the sheer number of people who participate, it is amazing how one morning's effort transforms hundreds of miles of beaches, parks, rivers, and streams. The massive collaborative effort across Virginia every Clean the Bay Day is "heartwarming," Swain says. "Even if it's the only time they do it this year, that makes a real difference," she says.

—Kenny Fletcher, CBF's Virginia Communications Coordinator

Be a part of the Virginia tradition! Sign up for this year's Clean the Bay Day.