Plan a Stream or River Clean-Up Event

There are more than 100,000 miles of streams and creeks in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. These tributaries send fresh water into the Bay and provide vital habitat to aquatic plants and animals. They also provide people with public access points where they can fish, boat, swim, observe wildlife, and reconnect with the watershed.  Building personal connections with the environment can benefit public health and conservation efforts. But what happens when that stream or river is cluttered with litter?

The accumulation of litter is perhaps the most visible threat to waterways. Aquatic litter and debris includes plastic bags, cigarette butts, beverage bottles and other waste that enters the marine environment. Sometimes, this waste is thrown onto a street or into a waterway on purpose; other times, it enters the environment accidentally. In urban and suburban areas, waste that is on a street or sidewalk can be pushed into storm drains, rivers and streams when it rains. Aquatic litter can detract from an area’s beauty, smother grass beds and bottom-dwelling organisms, add chemical contaminants to the water, or be ingested by animals. Learn how to locate your local waterways and organize a Clean-Up Day!

Before You Start

Overview: Project Planning Basics

Find a Local Waterway:

  • FieldScope (switch the basemap to “topo”)
  • Model My Watershed
  • EPA Surf Your Watershed
  • Implementation

    Register & Organize a Clean-Up: Project Clean Stream

    Organize a Stream Clean-Up (Video): Chesapeake Bay Foundation

    Stream Clean-Up Downloadable Handbook: Chesapeake Bay Foundation

    Plant a Forest Buffer

    Using Your Project

    Bay Backpack: Rivers and Streams Lessons & Activities

    Monitor Water Quality & Wildlife

    Clean Water Projects to Restore & Protect Your Stream

    Eco-School Sustainability Pathways Lessons & Resources

    Eco School National Standards & Curriculum Alignment

    Project Learning Tree Curriculum Offerings

    Eco Schools Green STEM Initiative

    Sharing Your Project

    Overview: Sharing Your Project

    Register Your Clean-Up Event

    Resource Center

    Eco Schools USA Handbook
    National & State Green School Programs
    Project Resource Library: Learn More!
    Bay Backpack Teaching Resources Search Engine
    EPA Learning & Teaching About the Environment (awards, resources, more)