The results for the 2019 Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) Annual Spring River Clean-up are in! This year’s event was another great success due to the many volunteers that helped collect a ton of trash – literally! On Saturday, March 30th, 155 volunteers of all ages and from diverse groups including businesses, civic and youth organizations, Fort Lee, as well as local leaders came out to several locations to help FOLAR board members pick up litter and remove illegally dumped trash and other damaging debris from the river. By noon, the volunteers had collected an impressive 200 bags of trash – with cigarette butts, cans and bottles, and plastic bags among the most common items found. Other illegally dumped items removed were 25 tires, 50 pounds of old metal, four sheets of 4’x 8’ paneling, and one bed mattress set! The Spring Clean-up is FOLAR’s signature clean-up event and the largest of several shoreline improvement activities that FOLAR and its partners plan and implement each year in the community.
Chris Rizzo, a FOLAR Volunteer of the Year Award recipient along with FOLAR founding board member, Richard Taylor, led a group at Appomattox Riverside Park-Ferndale in Dinwiddie. Taylor stated, “I was proud to have so many volunteers from across the region helping today in support of protecting our river. It was especially great to have Delegate Lashrecse Aird, her two sons and a friend here. I am more encouraged every day by how many young people care about the environment and are doing something to protect it.”
In addition to individual community members at Hopewell City Park, two City Council members, Johnny Partin and Patience Bennett, as well as a representative from Delegate Aird’s office, Brianna Menchion, joined with volunteers from Perdue Farms, American Water Company, John Tyler Community College, and Essentra to collect the most trash of the day. At Rosalyn Landing Park volunteers from C.H.A.R.T.S. (Colonial Heights Appomattox River Trail System), Kiwanis Club, and Fort Lee joined with individual and families to tackle the near-by ponds. Fort Lee soldiers were also out in force with other volunteers at the Petersburg Patton Park and the Appomattox Riverside Park-Ferndale in Dinwiddie and proved a great help with larger items.
“We have wonderful volunteers and partners,” said FOLAR Executive Director, Wendy Austin who was at the Patton Park site. “We are so grateful to our Recreation & Parks partners in each community, especially Aaron Reidmiller and Craig Skalak who were helping on site and to Container First Services for providing dumpsters and hauling the collected trash away. And, of course, we are very thankful for all the volunteers who came out to helped!”