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D.C. Rivers Show Signs of Relief on Earth Day

Three weeks, 5,500 volunteers and 258 tons of trash later, Capitol River Relief brought its 2005 cleanup of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers to a close Friday at an Earth Day celebration at Hains Point.

The second annual relief effort was spearheaded by environmentalist Chad Pregracke, whose boat-based cleanup crews ferried volunteers to trash-filled sites up and down the District’s waterways since the project kicked off March 31.

The amount of trash gathered this year by Capitol River Relief volunteers, including staffers from more than 10 different Congressional offices, was enough to fill five 140-foot barges. It included among its many items 1,640 tires, 16 Big Wheel bikes, 13 refrigerators, two USA Today newspaper dispensers and two messages in a bottle. Much of the garbage will be recycled.

Pregracke, who was recognized Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with an Environmental Hero award, praised the many D.C. organizations that sponsored this year’s cleanup, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Alice Ferguson Foundation and the Anacostia Watershed Society. Pregracke said he’d be back next year, and every year after, until his services were no longer needed along Washington’s waterways.

“Hopefully we’ve done some good here in the nation’s capital because it’s a small symbol of what’s going on all across the country,” he said.

“Capitol River Relief is a great project, not only because of its contributions to the restoration and preservation of two of Washington’s most treasured natural resources — the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers — but also because it encourages individual stewardship of our environment,” Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said in a release on Friday.

— John McArdle

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