FRANKLIN COUNTY (SEPT. 21, 2019) — Pulling trash and debris out of the Conocheague Creek is a labor of love for Eric Grace and members of his Creek Cleanup Project.
“There are many things in this world I would like to change but it’s unlikely I could have any impact on much of it,” Grace says of CCP’s efforts to clean up the county’s waterways.
“Getting the trash out of the creeks of Franklin County is something I can do and will have a positive impact on the whole community.”
So that’s why Grace and his group spends most weekends in the summer in the water, wading up and down the banks of the stream often referred to by locals as the “Jig” looking for trash.
They take flat-bottomed boats into the creek with them, loading junk they pull out of the creek bed into those.
Organization: Franklin County Creek Cleanup Project
The Creek Cleanup Project was created in 2017. The idea is to not only clean up the local waterways but maintain them on a regular basis.
The cleanup activity has concentrated on the Conocheague so far. But members hope to eventually expand to clean up all the county’s waterways.
To do that, Grace visions multiple groups working on different sections along each creek.
His goal for CCP is to organize the groups, then provide them with the boats and tools needed to do the job.
CCP will also pick up the collected trash and dispose of it. Volunteers will mark large bulky items and note their locations. Then a more specialized group can come through and remove them at a later date.
Needed: Volunteers, Lots of Them
But achieving that goal will take volunteers, a lot of them.
“Our biggest need right now is people power,” Grace said. “We are looking for volunteers.”
CCP is not the typical cleanup group.
“We get in the creeks and remove the large heavy stuff that other groups may not have the tools or time to remove,” he said.
Grace and the CCP board are working on its non-profit status, something important to fundraising efforts. To continue the work, the group needs more equipment and many more volunteer workers.
Right now CCP wants to buy a used dump truck to carry the stuff they pull from county creeks to the dump. Hopefully, it can be outfitted with a winch to pull heavy, entrenched items from the creek bed. Items like the 250-gallon oil tank volunteers pulled out of the creek today.
They are still about $1,500 short of the $2,500 they need for the dump truck.
If CCP had that, they could not only haul more stuff but also install a winch on it, Grace said.
Goal: Pristine Waterways Across Franklin County
Grace believes in his cause and sees a time when all of the county’s waterways will be pristine. And stay that way.
“I honestly believe by the end of next summer you will see a major difference in the East and West branch of the Conocochgue,” he said.
He thinks that once county residents see the creeks clean and cared for, they will be less likely to throw trash into the water. They might even start plucking any trash they see out of the water themselves.
The group plans one last big project for the year on Oct. 12. They will meet in the parking lot at Boyer Mill Repair at 9 a.m. Then they will work the Conocheague from Boyer Mill Road toward Chambersburg’s Water Treatment Plant.
Meanwhile, CCP’s big drive as summer fades and fall begins is to recruit new members and volunteers. The criteria: You must be passionate about keeping Franklin County’s waterways clean.
Residents interested in the work CCP is doing can contact the group at (717) 552-4599