Group holds river cleanup, tree planting

Volunteer Adam Smith readies a tree for planting at Seven Bends State Park on Saturday. The Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River planted trees at the park and removed trash from a portion of the river near Timberville. Courtesy photo

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River held a joint river cleanup and tree planting over the weekend at Plains Mill and Seven Bends State Park respectively. John Eckman, the organization’s executive director, said that both did well to help their respective causes.

Plains Mill, on the border of Shenandoah and Rockingham counties, is an area where there is road access up to or near the river itself and Eckman said that these kinds of places are where refuse tends to accumulate.

“That site in particular has road frontage along the river – (it) is a likely spot that may need help,” he said. “We’re always looking to the public to alert us to places that need attention because we can’t see it all.”

The crew of about 10 was able to remove several tires and animal carcasses, among other items. Eckman said that given the nature of the spot in question, deer carcasses are commonly found.

“On that particular road, on the way back from the mountains, people were already processing deer and most of the carcasses were just skin. … People need to find better ways to dispose of these carcasses.”

At Seven Bends, Eckman said the tree planting was a success as well.

“We had a grant from the Keep Virginia Beautiful – 30 grants in 30 days programs,” he said. “We were focused on redbuds and dogwoods and some things that are attractive at trail entrances and we did some things with spice bushes. And in the spring we’ll be back there to do more flowers that wouldn’t have survived the winter.”

Eckman said that his organization tries to hold at least two or three of these types of cleanups and plantings yearly, and touted the importance of the projects.

“I think in terms of water quality itself, they may not be the biggest factor relative to things you can’t see in the water,” he said. “But in terms of having the community being inspired about having a clean river I think they’re very important. It’s a visual reminder of our impact on the river. … We’d love for people who want to sort of adopt a stretch of river. The main thing we need help with is finding spots where we can both access it and there’s trash.”

Anyone with tips regarding spots on the river in need of help can contact the Friends of the North Fork at 540-459-8550.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com