What if part of your daily job, five days per week in all seasons, were to wade into a river, push trash from a sort of dam up to the top of a ramp, and separate the large wood debris from the trash for collection? This is what a few of the staff of the Back River Restoration Committee (BRRC) do every week with amazing results: They’ve kept more than seven million pounds of trash and debris from entering the Chesapeake Bay since 2011, through the operation of the trash boom and community cleanup events.

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The trash boom on Back River. Photos courtesy of BRRC

“We’ve been busy,” says BRRC project manager Desiree Greaver, who explains that the “boom,” a trash-collection barrier installed in Back River at I-695, remains a top priority for the non-profit. She and her fellow BRRC employees Paul Schilpp and Austin Lewis do the bulk of the daily debris removal in Back River (a 30-minute drive from Annapolis, north of the Patapsco). They also employ local students as interns during their summer break and give scholarships to participants.  

In partnership with Blue Water Baltimore, BRRC does water quality monitoring. In the fall of 2023, they began working with a local high school’s Green Team to collect samples in Back River to be sent out for analysis. “Their interest and excitement in this program have been so rewarding,” says Greaver, who notes how they plan to expand upon such work.

BRRC hosts cleanups in the Tidal Back River Watershed and hosts fundraising events, including a Golf Tournament held in June, a Fishing Tournament held in September, a Holiday Festival held in November, and other smaller events in the community throughout the year.

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Earth Day cleanup with Back River Restoration Committee and BGE. Photo courtesy of BRRC

“We always need volunteers at our cleanup events and at our boom. After large rain events, the trash that makes its way to the boom along with the damage it can cause can be overwhelming and can take weeks and or months to cleanup,” says Greaver.

Other volunteer opportunities include ones that are not as physically demanding, such as stenciling at storm drains and other non-trash-related duties. Learn more at savebackriver.org.