By Mary Ellsworth and Lain Wilson
That grassy strip that you park next to and that you carry your boats across is a small area that does big work. The bioswale—the buffer between the boathouse and the river—is a first line of defense, soaking up stormwater runoff and filtering pollution before it enters the Anacostia.
This Earth Day, 260 volunteers from across the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association (ACBA) and Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) participated in cleanup efforts along the bioswale, collecting trash, removing invasive plants, and planting native, flood-resistant species like shadbush, red-twig dogwood, and blue flag iris.
In particular, as part of a nationwide effort and the theme of this year’s Earth Day—“No Plastic Straw Please”—volunteers picked up and counted plastic straws, one of the major contributors to ocean plastic. More than 320 plastics straws were collected from 33 sites during Saturday’s AWS-led cleanup. Destined to accumulate in the oceans, most of these straws were brought in by the river over the winter.
This year also marks the “Year of the Anacostia,” celebrating the cleaner, healthier river that the Anacostia is becoming. Earth Day wasn’t the end of Capital rowers’ stewardship of the river. Bioswale work sessions, led by the indefatigable Mary Ellsworth and Jim Smailes, take place on the last Sunday of each month from 9:30 am to noon. So if you missed Earth Day—or want to continue contributing to the health of our river—sign up for a work session!