The Schuylkill Action Network has partnered with Bradley Maule of Philadelphia to pinpoint the Schuylkill River’s most littered banks. This comes about three weeks after Maule’s 112-mile journey down the river, from Schuylkill Haven to Philadelphia.
Maule joined more than 200 paddlers for the Schuylkill River Sojourn on June 4-10. During this time he served as the SAN’s sojourn steward. This required him to document the river’s trash.
To do this he used the hashtag #SojournSteward on Facebook and Instagram. He also posted articles on PhillySkyline.com.
“As I expected, the most visible form of litter is always plastic,” said Maule. “Piles of plastic bottles accumulating from urban storm drains, sheets of plastic wrapped in tree branches and roots on banks — discarded plastic always presents a harsh contrast in the natural world.”
The SAN has worked to reduce litter washing into the river since 2011. That is when it expanded the Schuylkill Scrub, an annual campaign to clean up the Schuylkill Valley. This, in turn, keeps the Delaware Estuary clean.
“We’re looking to expand the Schuylkill Scrub, to prevent litter from occurring” said Virginia Vassalotti of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. She works to coordinate the SAN on behalf of its member-organizations.
According to her, “Brad’s photo map will help us determine where litter is coming from and what types of litter are most prominent. This will help us develop strategies to prevent litter.”
Few have studied this litter at its source. That is why the SAN turned to Maule. He spoke out on the issue in 2015 with his “One Man’s Trash” exhibit at the Fairmount Water Works. This consisted of all the trash he encountered during a year of weekly hikes in Wissahickon Valley Park.
“I felt a strong connection as we came to the confluence of the Wissahickon Creek at the Schuylkill River on the final day of the sojourn, and I was happy to find it pretty clean,” said Maule. “I’d actually give the overall course of the river a B+ — pretty clean, but there’s still work to do, especially in places with larger populations like Reading, Philadelphia, and even Pottsville.”
Click Here for a story map of Maule’s travels, including photos and descriptions of stops along the way. Click Here for more photos from the trip.
Visit the Schuylkill Scrub website to report little near you in the Schuylkill River Watershed.For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Schuylkill Action Network website.