Marsh Clean Up

Trip dates: 
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Trip length: 
1 day
Type of watercraft: 
  • Beyond Our Backyard, the Marsh
  • Tires and Rusting Metal Litter the Moist Ground
  • Rusting Barrels and an Old Dock
  • The Creek, Looking Downstream
  • Inadvertent Damming Raised Water Level Too High
  • Dead Bamboo Blocks Sunlight and Prevents New Plant Growth
  • Cleaned Stream
  • Flow Restored
  • Trash Awaiting Loading
  • A Full Truckload - 1 of 2

Old habits die hard, and in the case of our neighborhood the habit is dumping trash and debris into the wetland behind our cottage.  The 1/10th of an acre of marsh land is privately owned - part of a 9 lot collection, though the owners are seasonal visitors and, instead of cleaning up trash this year, they cut down about 10 big beautiful shade-giving trees instead.  We've made offers to buy the land from three different owners over the last twenty years, hoping to protect it, but to no avail.  No one wants to separate the single marsh lot from the other eight.  Today, we took advantage of one of the "Extra Credit Points for Stay-at-Home Century Club Members" and took clean-up into our own hands - literally.

Dobbs and I donned waterproof boots and work clothes and, over the course of six hours, hauled out several hundred pounds of trash.  Almost every item was water-logged and muddy.  To get loaded into our truck, each piece had to be carried or rolled up hill from the marsh to the road in front of our house.  We extracted:  5 tires, 1 wheel, two 55-gallon steel drums, 1 copper oil tank and piping (good cash-for-scrap find), rotten wood decking from a floating dock, 3/4 of one giant chest freezer (the door is almost entirely submerged and trees have grown over it), a plastic slide, a "No Wake" marker, a steel ladder, 3 footballs, 2 basketballs, 1 baseball, 1 tarp, half a car dolly, an engine block, a steel car fender, a porcelain and bronze marine head, 4 RV window frames, a slew of plastic flower pots, a plastic barrel, and about 1/8th of a fiberglass power boat. 

In the course of the clean up, we found that the stream that feeds the wetland had been blocked when neighbors cut down bamboo and then bulldozed it, along with trash and the boat, into the stream bed.  We'd noticed that area becoming wetter than usual - like the beginnings of a mill pond - over the last year.  What do you know?  It was!  The ponding area was a couple feet higher than the outflow stream.  We cut and raked out the dead bamboo and piled it off to one side.  Then Dobbs used a ryoba to cut a swath out of the wrecked boat, to allow the stream to flow through.  I raked dead leaves from the stream bed up onto the banks and graded the bed to a more gradual descent.  By the time we were exhausted, the flow was much improved.  

We carted the trash - two truck-loads worth - off to the landfill.  The wetland could still benefit from more management - hauling away of the organic debris (primarily the bamboo) and the remaining trash, and additional restoration - but that will have to wait for another day.  We feel good about what we achieved and we hope our neighbors will notice, and begin to take better care of this special spot.