We often spend our weekends cleaning plastic debris out of the beautiful Monongahela River in West Virginia. One weekend last summer we removed more than 1,000 pounds of litter out of the river and about 20 tires.  

We recently took a trip to the southwest portion of Monongalia County and stopped by Opekiska Dam. The photos I took show a lot of debris ready to come downriver to places like Morgantown. The trees and tree limbs are natural. But look closely at all the bottles, plastic, tires, etc. This is shameful.  As you can see in the photo, we could use help from the crane belonging to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clean up trash that collects in front of the dam.  

This litter then comes through the dam or lock at intervals, causing litter in the Morgantown Wharf District area below the dam. It's damaging to wildlife on the river and, as it continues downstream, someday reaches the Gulf of Mexico, where plastic is harmful to endangered species in the world's oceans. Moreover, the Morgantown dam is within the city limits in an area of high visibility where millions of dollars have been spent to create an economic development zone.

"Environmental stewardship has become an integral part of the Corps' work ethic and its roots extend back into history" and "while this tradition may have been overshadowed by the national pro-development push of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, today's Corps takes a strong approach to protect the environment " [1], we believe it is time for the Corps to work with the community and volunteers at the above locations in a pilot project to use cranes already at the location to remove plastic and help clean up the Monongahela River and areas downstream to the Gulf of Mexico.

[1] http://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/

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