Volunteers took to the streams, lakes and woodlands of Fort Campbell Friday for a few hours, helping remove debris as part of the annual Project Clean Stream cleanup.
Along with Environmental Division workers, the group spent approximately three hours cleaning the grounds and waterway in and near Lake Tahl and the Wohali Pavilion outdoor recreational area, outside Gate 10.
“I heard about the project last year from a friend,” said Nam Estrada, Family member. “I just like to help out. Me and my kids come out here all the time to feed the ducks.”
For the past six years, the Environmental Division Stormwater Program’s Project Clean Streams efforts have helped restore the installation’s lakes, streams and recreation areas by helping eliminate obvious trash and debris.
This year, 106 individuals volunteered for the beautification effort, which included teams of Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Retention Team, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division; 501st Area Support Medical Company; 86th Combat Support Hospital; Fort Campbell’s BOSS program; 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion Chaplain’s office, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div., Family members, teachers and 37 students from Barsanti Elementary School and individual volunteer Soldiers.
“The effort went really well. We collected three pick-up trucks full of material,” said Dan Etson, stormwater program manager. “Approximately 840 pounds were collected and about half of that was recyclable material, like aluminum cans, glass bottles [and]plastic bottles. There were large pieces of metal that were recyclable, too. The oddest thing collected was an automobile seat.”
Etson hopes participants continue in their restoration and recycling efforts, and inspire others to do their part as well.
“We want people that volunteered to tell people they know and encourage people, others, to keep our areas clean, especially with all these recyclable things,” said Etson. “Without help, a lot of the trash could end up in the creeks and affect our wildlife.”
Unfortunately, illegal dumping has become a common occurrence on the installation, according to Etson.
“We have a moderate issue [of people dumping trash, especially in the back area of post],” said Etson. “It’s something we have to keep tabs on. For some reason, people think it’s more convenient [to dump] than to take items to the convenience center. It takes more time to do that than to do it the correct way.”
Project Clean Streams and similar beautification projects help educate volunteers and participants, through hands-on activity, the effects human activity has on the environment and local waterways.
“These streams go into the ground water, which provides drinking water for the installation,” said Etson. “Our efforts to keep them clean are very important, and affect us directly.”
“I’m helping the environment stay healthy and stay clean,” said Barsanti Elementary School third-grader and volunteer Kiara Tucker. “Because if you don’t help it stay clean, then all the plants will die, and then you can’t breathe because we need oxygen!”
Students from Barsanti made up the largest and most energetic group of volunteers Friday.
“We want our students to take responsibility for the world they live in,” said Sylvia Crawford, Barsanti student council and gifted resource teacher. “This is a perfect way for them to see that they can make a difference.”
Barsanti third-grader Autumn Beckwith was visibly excited, yet remained focused on her mission.
“Find trash!” said Autumn. “They teach us that if you recycle, it’s very good and it helps the earth stay clean, so it’s not trashy and some of the animals won’t die.”
Investing fully in children today by teaching them personal responsibility will help in safeguarding the future health of our planet tomorrow, Crawford said.
“[This project] gave kids a great sense of responsibility for the world they live in and teaching them to make this a place better than they found it,” she said. “So if we teach them that, we’re teaching them a lot.”