Record rains have forced more trash and debris into the Wissahickon Creek than ever before, so organizers of an annual cleanup set for this weekend say they need more help than ever before, too.
Friends of the Wissahickon, a nonprofit that has acted as a steward for the park since 1924, is hosting a “Super Mega Volunteer Service Day” on Saturday to remove trash, perform trail maintenance, and mark the group’s 95th anniversary.
“It should be a really great day,” said Maura McCarthy, the group’s executive director. “It will be a great opportunity to connect people with spaces they don’t often get to in the park. They’ll get to know the park from a different angle.”
McCarthy said climate change is behind the record-breaking rains in 2018 and what looks to be another wet year. The result of all this precipitation: storm-water systems become overwhelmed with trash and debris that flow into waterways such as the Wissahickon. Not only that, lots of trees came down during the storms.
Friends of the Wissahickon officials said they want to stress to visitors that the park should not be used as a dumping ground. Last year, volunteers hauled out eight tons of trash from the park, including a trampoline and a car. They are hoping for 500 volunteers. Volunteers will also help clear out invasive plants and plant flowers.
Keeping the water clean is important, McCarthy said, because the Wissahickon flows into the Schuylkill, which along with the Delaware River provides drinking water for Philadelphia.
Saturday’s cleanup will start at 10 entrances to the 1,800-acre park. The cleanup runs from 9 a.m. to noon, followed by a picnic from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Gathering places for cleanup locations are:
Ten Box and Historic Rittenhouse Town — meet at the Upper Lot at Historic Rittenhouse Town.
Ridge Avenue Trailhead — meet at the Philadelphia Canoe Club.
Blue Bell Hill — meet at the Blue Bell Picnic Pavilion.
Saylor’s Grove — meet at Wissahickon Avenue and Rittenhouse Street.
Wigard Avenue Trailhead — meet at Wigard Avenue off Henry Avenue.
Mount Airy Avenue Trailhead — meet at West Mount Airy and Mount Airy Terraces.
Lavender Trail and Covered Bridge — meet at the Crefeld Street Trailhead.
Wissahickon Environmental Center — meet at the upper parking lot on Northwestern Avenue (Roxborough side).
Bells Mill (East and West) — meet at Bells Mill Road and Forbidden Drive.
Houston Meadow — meet at Courtesy Stables.