Otway, OH—Saturday, May 21, 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the Scioto Brush Creek Sweep. We have come a long way and still have a long way to go. This is a great time to reflect on how this event came to be as well as the impact this event has had on the watershed.
The Scioto Brush Creek Sweep actually began as a replica of the Ohio Brush Creek Sweep. Interestingly enough this is the 25th anniversary of the Ohio Brush Creek Sweep. Many locals refer to either of these creeks as simply “Brush Creek” and some don’t realize they are two totally different streams. Ohio Brush Creek empties into the Ohio River, whereas Scioto Brush Creek empties into the Scioto River. Depending on where you are from determines which “Brush Creek” you might be referring to. Ohio Brush Creek runs South through the center of Adams County while Scioto Brush Creek originates in the Peebles area. It flows to the East where it is joined in Otway by the South Fork of Scioto Brush, which starts in the Blue Creek area.
Since beginning the Scioto Brush Creek Sweep in 2007 we estimate that more than 120 volunteers have removed in excess of 10 tons of garbage and debris from this stream. When we think of the Sweep we generally limit the benefits to only removing the garbage. I feel that it is much more than that. The mission of the Friends of Scioto Brush Creek is “maintaining or improving the water quality of Scioto Brush Creek through awareness, education and involvement of the local residents”. The Sweep covers all three points.
Awareness. The Sweep is what I refer to as a “hands-on, feet-wet” activity. I have discovered that the only way to get anyone to fully appreciate this precious natural resource is to get their feet wet. For those that have ever participated in a Sweep you know that you will end up wet very quickly. I feel confident all participants are much more “aware” after completing a Sweep.
Education. One component of the Sweep is to incorporate an educational component into it. This is usually in the form of having a guest speaker at the conclusion of our shore lunch. In addition we have several participants each year that are naturalists. Who doesn’t want to float one of the cleanest most diverse streams in the state with a naturalist? Each year we all learn from each other and from our guest speaker.
Involvement. This is where the “rubber meets the road”. Many of our participants are local residents that are truly concerned with keeping their watershed clean. Keep in mind we have no geographic limits for membership. I myself do not live in that watershed. We welcome all.
I often talk to school kids about the impacts to our streams. When I talk about the garbage, I try to stress that going to the creek is by far the hardest most inefficient means of trash removal. But once it is there, that is the only way to get it out. It is much easier to pick it up along the road before it can ever make it to a stream. And even better than that is to prevent it from being discarded in the first place. The only way we can change that is by changing our behavior. I feel that the efforts of the Friends of Scioto Brush Creek and all the events that they do, including the Adopt-A-Highway and the Sweep, go a long way in changing people’s behavior. I look back over the last 25 years of conducting sweeps and I have seen a change in behavior. I feel that littering is becoming less socially acceptable like it once was. People are becoming more and more aware of the impacts to our water.
As proof of our success here is a photo of myself with Shannon Browning during last year’s Sweep. She was recently unanimously awarded the “Best Friend of Scioto Brush Creek” for 2015. This is very well deserved. Here is a person that is a product of our Scioto Brush Creek Day. She took an interest in making a difference. She has made a difference. You can too! It reminds me of a famous quote from Dr. Seuss in the Lorax: “Unless someone cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
If you are interested in being part of the solution I would encourage you to join the Friends if you are not already a member. Whether a member or not, for those that are up for a challenge, we would love to have you join us during the Sweep or the Adopt-A-Highway cleanups. To sign up for the Sweep please contact Adams Soil and Water Conservation District. You may call 937-544-1010 or email Anita Conaway at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1997 the Friends of Scioto Brush Creek, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit watershed organization whose mission is to protect and maintain Scioto Brush Creek through education, awareness and involvement of local residence. For more information, to become a member or volunteer, contact us at email@example.com or visit https://www.facebook.com/friendsofsciotobrushcreek.