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Canoeing for the environment

CHESAPEAKE – Sitting on the front deck of his sailboat, Bob Summerfeldt slowly paddled along the bank of Symmes Creek picking up trash Saturday.

Saturday, August 14, 1999

CHESAPEAKE – Sitting on the front deck of his sailboat, Bob Summerfeldt slowly paddled along the bank of Symmes Creek picking up trash Saturday.

Behind him there were plastic bottles, debris and even a chrome piece of a car fender piled up.

"Last year, I found a frame of a bicycle, but it fell overboard after a while," Summerfeldt said. "There’s just trash out here that people have thrown on the banks over the years."

This is the second year the Chesapeake native has participated in the Symmes Creek Restoration Committee Canoe Caper, which takes place at the Chesapeake Boat Ramp.

The caper allows area residents to borrow a canoe for a relaxing trip on the water, and helps to clean up the banks, said Grayson Thornton, SCRC Canoe Caper chairman.

"We’re doing this as a program to demonstrate the value of Symmes Creek as a place for recreation," Thornton said. "And everyone who goes out takes a trash bag and fills it up. They don’t have to fill up any particular amount. They just pick up anything they want to that looks like trash. One of the biggest problems we have are people who dump trash into the watershed. The trash eventually finds its way into the main creek."

A frequent boater, Summerfeldt notices the trash in the creek almost daily and he said it looks bad.

"I frequently launch out of here and I don’t like this junk floating by," he said. "When a chance comes along to pick some of it up, we do. It’s a nice little stream."

But there is a better way to keep the creek clean, Summerfeldt added.

"It would sure help if people would pay attention upstream so that the trash doesn’t get in here in the first place," he said. "That would be great."

Pollution can destroy, said Seth Daniels, a 12-year-old Boy Scout Troop 115 member.

The South Point troop participates in the event each year, Daniels said.

"We help so we can have clean, fresh air and the fish can have clean, fresh water," Daniels said. "If people litter and pollute the air, we wouldn’t live. The fish would not live in water pollution."

And it is important to protect the fish, he added.

"Fish are just as important as we are," Daniels said. "Fish have their own lives and we have our own lives and I think we should respect them, and the ducks."

The Symmes Creek Restoration Committee formed as a result of the bicentennial Pioneer Canoeing Event in 1976, said Art Ferguson, SCRC secretary.

The bicentennial committee noticed signs of creek deterioration from log jams and litter along the banks, Ferguson said.

A group of concerned citizens formed the restoration committee two years later and it has actively sought the cleanup of the stream ever since, he added.

Currently, committee members are applying for an Environmental Protection Agency grant to help further the cleanup project, Thornton said.