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The Bank Job — Fall 2014 Edition

2014-09-21

The Bank Job — Fall 2014 Edition

Lots of volunteers.

A breezy morning turned into a great day on the Litter Banks of Ward Creek, and with the combined efforts of Volunteer LSU, the Bayou Manchac Group, and PaddleBR, a vast amount of litter was gathered to be sent to a better place.

After the work clearing the bridge blockades over the last two Saturdays, everything was ready for the cleanup.  Sunday morning dawned, and Jonathan and I made our final preparations and started toward the site.  It felt a bit strange to be driving to a waterway without even one boat on top of or towed behind my car, but with the way clear, Jonathan’s pontoon boat would provide all the water transport we’d need (and a bit of a rest sounded nice, too).  A few minutes after I arrived with several crates of bags and some gear, along came Jonathan with the rest.

Litter? Here?

After briefings and the distribution of highly desirable gloves, it was time to start shuttling groups to various spots along the bank.  It’s a bit of a shame that there are so many options available (all of which pretty much look like the photo above).  On the other hand, every piece of litter that gets trapped on the Litter Banks is a piece that isn’t flowing downstream into Bayou Manchac, the Amite River, and beyond.  I’d certainly like to have to look a bit harder to find litter, but trapping it before it escapes the city is better than nothing.  (Perhaps someday we can trap it *intentionally* and keep it from making it *to* the Litter Banks, but that’s another day.)

Litter picking.

Groups of about six went ashore at each spot, each with a crate or bucket of bags and such.  The volunteers were amazing.  They were picking areas “clean” almost as fast as they could be shuttled around.  By the time lunch came around, the gathered litter at the launch point was becoming rather impressive.

Picking litter.

As each group finished lunch, they’d hop back on the boat and head off to another spot.  Over the course of the day, we covered around 3/4 of a mile of Ward Creek.  We even had some paddlers running up and down the channel grabbing floating litter as they went.  (There is currently a lot more floating litter in Ward Creek than I have seen at other times.  We likely should do a paddle cleanup soon.)

More volunteers, and litter.

With all the help, by 4pm we had knocked out a huge pile of litter, and it was time to wrap it up.  After carrying the huge collection of litter up the bank to the road and stopping for a very well-deserved photo op, the LSU crowd headed out.  A few of us stayed, broke down the encampment, and had Jonathan all loaded back up.  And then it was time for the most important part.  (Note: Not at all the most important part, but still fun.)

While keeping a running count, we re-stacked all the litter for pickup.  Fifty came and went quite early.  Then one hundred passed by with plenty left.  And then something terrible happened!  We were just shy of 144!  Well, at least that was easily corrected.  We augmented the stack with just a bit more litter, reaching precisely *one* *gross* *pile*.  Yep, 144 bags.  A dozen dozens (plus some big stuff).  And so, with a nice square number to report, I got down in front of the pile with a nice square banner to match.

One gross pile.

All told, it was an amazingly productive day.  Hats off to the many volunteers who showed up to help.  (I’m told we had right around 40 people there for the scheduled four-hour cleanup.)  Alas, it was not completely without difficulties, as I had to replace an expensive winch cable and  Jonathan damaged a chainsaw Saturday and bent *two* props on his pontoon boat while working to support the cleanup.  Hopefully by the next time we do a major work day like this, we’ll have the means to help him out a bit with debris-related expenses instead of merely having our sincere and profuse thanks to offset the cost.  For now, however, thanks again to everyone who came out to help with the cleanup.  Without you, it could not have been such a great success.

Until next time, then.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. M@ Hamilton permalink
    2014-10-06 10:50pm

    I want to thank you first and foremost for aiming to keep our waterways clean. I recently purchased property on Ward Creek and dream of the day my kids can roam the spill banks litter free. My kids and I just so happened to be shopping at PetsSmart on that Sunday and noticed the huge pile of trash bags. I wanted to say hey but didn’t feel comfortable climbing down in the creek with strangers. Please keep me informed of upcoming clean up dates as my kids and I would love to float our kayaks and participate in a clean up day to contribute to a cleaner BR back yard.

    • 2014-10-14 3:52pm

      You’re very welcome, and in the future, you’re literally welcome, too. I have a feeling we’ll always be a bit stranger than most, hehe, but we’d love to have you out sometime. I’m not sure when our next big organized cleanup will be (as opposed to the usual everyday canoe’s worth), but we’ll certainly try to be sure everyone hears. (Hopefully BREC can make progress on getting a couple of the paddle launches in place, which would make cleanup logistics much easier in the spots that really need help.)

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