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The Big Creek Cleanup - Twenty Years and Counting

Twenty Years and Counting…Bags of Trash

On Saturday, June 1, volunteers spanned throughout the Big Creek watershed for the 20th Annual Big Creek Clean Up. From Parma Heights in the south, north to the Oxbow area in Brooklyn, and along the Chevy Branch in the Bellaire-Puritas neighborhood, approximately 50 volunteers pulled out trash and debris that littered the creek.

Over the last twenty years, at least 1000 people have aided in the effort to improve aesthetics in the Cuyahoga River’s third largest watershed. There have been so many great volunteers and sponsors! All those out there, you know who you are. Some of those that I would like to thank are no longer with us. Some have grown up, gone to college, got married or left the neighborhood, some have retired, and there are some that I hope are watching from above. I especially want to acknowledge former helpers who I really miss, like Peggy and Vivian, Lester, Rachel, Hallie, Tom, and Mark. Thank Bob Gardin and Mary Ellen Stasek of Big Creek Connects (formerly Friends of Big Creek), Yalinda Moore and the Cleveland Water Pollution Control staff, and my co-worker Amy Roskilly who has taken over the reins for the cleanup.

Over these past twenty years, some of the local and regional businesses that supported our cleanup efforts no longer exist. Back in 1998, Sea World co-sponsored the first clean up. That year we filled up two 40 cubic yard dumpsters with trash that included tires, layers of bottles, a mother board, tires metal, bikes, shopping cards and a sink. It was back breaking work, but the results were amazing and community residents were extremely grateful.

Some of the best benefits of our efforts, besides the improvements that were made, has been the opportunity to connect with the community residents. We shared our Big Creek stories and they have shared their thoughts and concerns with us, resulting in a better awareness of local issues and the ability to garner important project support. The residents cheered us on, kept us humble, and opened their homes to us.

Whether you have been with us only once, or each and every year, thank you for believing in the importance of our natural environment and the need for clean water. Special thanks to sponsors over the years: Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Cleveland Water Pollution Control, Cleveland Parks, Cleveland Metroparks, Sea World, Key Bank, Lubrizol, Walmart, Friends of Big Creek, Big Creek Connects, Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation, Westown Development Corporation, and local businesses. Thanks to the elected officials that have supported us, such as Jim McCall of Parma Heights, Sean Brennan of Parma, Katie Gallagher, Mayor of Brooklyn and Councilwoman Kathy Pucci, Dona Brady and Kevin Kelly of Cleveland Council; former councilman Marty Sweeney; community organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club, West Park Community Council, Longmead-McGowan Connection, local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops.

This year we pulled out the same types of junk - lots of bags, litter, car parts, tires, clothes, commercial products, a soccer ball and cheap sunglasses. Perennial volunteer Tina was great; Kevin came all the way from Painesville; Boy Scout Troop 319 with their friends and family was fabulous; our intern Joe brought his friends Amanda and Xavier from Cleveland State University; Kathy Pucci helped again with registration; Bob Gardin and Mary Ellen Stasek pitched in, as always; Yalinda and Water Pollution Control crew took care of Brookfield Park.

Maybe one day, we won’t be scouring streambanks to remove litter. At least I know that I am with some truly excellent people. Thanks, one and all. Cheers!!!

Blog author: Janine Rybka, Director

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