K9 Trailblazers Dog Hiking Club
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For our third consecutive year, K9Trailblazers adopted Turkey Run Park. http://www.k9trailblazers.org/turkey_run/tr_worktrip_040304.htm We provided crews to clean the trails, parking lots and picnic areas in the park as well as the mile or so of Potomac River shoreline bordering the park. When we clean up other people's trash with our leashed dogs by our sides, the National Park Service sees us as a visible advertisement for "hiking responsibly with dogs." We are a reminder that it's not "dogs" that are the problem in parks, it's irresponsible people.
It was 42 degrees with drizzling rain, but everyone who promised to come did show up to be part of the Potomac Watershed Clean-up, an annual event sponsored by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. http://www.fergusonfoundation.org
We gathered at 9 AM for orientation. Site coordinator was Pat with Mickey. After learning a little about the history of the park, we discussed safety procedures and the plan for the day. Everyone was given black bags for trash, blue bags for recyclable plastic bottles, tan bags to double-bag broken glass, work gloves and latex gloves, maps, and chocolate. Reflective vests and special containers for Haz-Mat were given to team leaders, and Blue Dog biscuits were distributed to the dogs. Team leaders Chuck and Lisa, who came without Jester, headed out along the red trail with Nancy and Tester; Becky and Sparky; and Jeanne who came without Tanka. Then Jeff, who came without Katy, headed down the yellow trail to the river with Jenifer and Gigi; Shirley who came without Princess; and Cheryl who left Oliver and Jess sleeping at home.
Then, for nearly four hours, 10 hard-working volunteers collected trash. Those folks working along the river hauled bags of trash up the steep trails from the river to the collection points. Among the notable items we removed: several hundred beer bottles, the back end of a television set, a set of oars, several pounds of cigarette butts, a basketball, a racquetball, a hockey ball, some fishing line, a double-bagged dirty diaper that burst its bag (eeeeuuuuwww) and 10 feet of rubber hose. We even found one of the mysterious "blue barrels" that have been washing up along the shores of Potomac lately. No one knows where they're coming from, or what was in them, so we pulled it up on the shore and marked it's location for pickup by the river patrol. In addition to those unusual items, we also picked up many pounds of plastic bottles, food wrappers and general detritus left by people who don’t know or don’t care that their trash is a threat to the health of both people and wildlife.
Although well behaved, leashed dogs are welcome at K9TB events, most dogs do not enjoy this one so many of our helpers allowed their canine companions to remain on the couch. But a few brought dogs who thought they were going for a hike and instead found themselves sitting quietly while their owners gathered trash. Sparky, Tester and Gigi were out on the trails, and Mickey assisted with public relations, trash pickup and site coordination in Parking Area C1. These canines, whose presence and good behavior help make dogs more welcome in National Parks, were the "face" of K9Trailblazers on Saturday. Thanks to all of them, and their hard-working people!
As a way of showing their appreciation for our help, the National Park Service rangers have offered a special “invitation only” hike during which the people who did the dirty work today will be treated to a guided peek at special places off the trails. They've earned it! K9Trailblazers has committed to adopting Turkey Run Park next year. We hope to see more old and new friends o! ut there helping with this big job.