Friends of the North Fork to clean up river

Woodstock-based Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River is preparing one of its annual volunteer cleanups with a more widespread effort.

Volunteers and staff members will meet up at 9 a.m. Saturday and work on cleaning up the river.

The cleanup focuses on trashed and polluted portions of the Shenandoah River in an effort to make it cleaner for the spring season.

This weekend’s cleanup is expected to be similar to last year’s effort, but different in that Friends will have an additional meet-up location for volunteers at the historic Plains Mill in New Market.

Traditionally, the cleanup groups have met at the Friends main office in Woodstock before going out along the river for the trash pick-up.

Friends Executive Director John Eckman said the spring cleanup efforts will be “spread out a little bit more” this year compared to previous years.

“We have some folks who are really inspired … in the upper regions of the watershed,” Eckman said. “We’re happy to have that energy.”

The addition of the New Market location is part of an effort, Eckman said, that Friends is making to focus work near northern Rockingham County.

Edinburg resident Jack Chapman has had a hand in organizing the cleanings for the past five or six years.

“My job is just to scout out and look for trash,” Chapman noted. “What we are finding is lighter loads of trash, so we don’t just go to one spot.”

Although Friends will not know until Saturday morning, Chapman said that his “best guess” for participation “could be anywhere from four to a dozen folks at each spot.”

Similar to last year, Chapman noted that he believes the amount of trash in the river has decreased over the years.

Eckman said that the “ultimate goal is to come home empty handed” from the cleanup efforts.

“We don’t like to brag about how much trash we bring back,” Eckman said, adding, “We’d prefer that we didn’t bring any back.”

Residents interested in volunteering are being urged to contact the Friends main office at 540-459-8550 or

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or

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