Man gains steam in ridding creek area of trash
By PAMELA WOOD, Staff Writer

Thousands of people drive through the busy intersection of Generals Highway and Bestgate Road in Parole each day.

But few venture beyond the businesses and office buildings, into the woods that are home to the very beginnings of Saltworks Creek.

Bob Whitcomb hiked into those woods and he didn't like what he saw: piles and piles of discarded tires, scrap metal and even steel tankards.

"We were shocked when we came across a massive dump on both sides of the hillsides," said Mr. Whitcomb, who lives nearby in the Saefern community. "It was just totally covered with trash from -- who knows? - 50 or 100 years."

Appalled, Mr. Whitcomb snapped photos and began a campaign to get the trash out. Working with the county government, the Severn Riverkeeper Program and local businesses, he is on his way to reaching his goal of cleaning up the headwaters of Saltworks Creek, which feeds into the Severn River.

In November and December, 13 tons of trash and seven steel tanks were removed from the site.

K. Hovnanian Homes, which is building the 76-home Monticello community nearby, arranged for a contractor and crew to spend two days at the site, filling three roll-off Dumpsters with trash.

It was a way for K. Hovnanian to improve its image, after Severn River activists complained earlier this year that sediment was washing away from the Monticello site and clouding Saltworks Creek, Mr. Whitcomb said.

K. Hovnanian officials couldn't be reached for comment.

The county pitched in with the Dumpsters and employees to haul off the junk. And the riverkeeper program paid for a contractor to remove the tanks with a giant crane.

Though so much already has been removed, Mr. Whitcomb said there's still a long way to go.

He hopes to get another contractor lined up to remove other large items including a couch, stove and refrigerator.

And on April 1, he's hoping to get volunteers to participate in a stream cleanup to remove the smaller items.

Mr. Whitcomb and other organizers of the cleanups said they wanted to focus on getting the job done, rather than assigning blame.

"Our attitude was, 'Let's just get it fixed,'" said Scott Hymes, executive director of the Severn Riverkeeper Program.

Mr. Hymes said the "public-private partnership" on this stream cleanup is the sort of thing the riverkeeper program wants to do more often.

"This is the kind of thing we're trying to put together more," he said.

Mr. Whitcomb hopes the Saltworks cleanup will be the first of many in the area. In other parts of Saltworks Creek, he's found two automobiles rotting away. And there are at least 22 other illegal dumpsites the county has identified in the Severn River watershed.

"There is still a lot left," Mr. Whitcomb said.


Published January 01, 2006, The Capital, Annapolis, Md.
Copyright 2006 The Capital,
Annapolis, Md.