SILVER SPRING, Md. — As the weather begins to clear, many Silver Spring and Takoma Park locals head to the historic trails of the area, such as Sligo Creek and the Burnt Mills Trail. However as the urban population in the area has increased, so has the influx of pollution in these natural ecosystems.
These growing amounts of trash stem from multiple issues. One of the major contributors are the litterers who walk along the trail. The waste these people leave on the ground can wash into rivers and creeks, causing harm to surrounding wildlife and consequential effects on the overall scenery.
Residents of the Sligo Creek and Burnt Mills area have expressed distaste over the growing amounts of litter in the area, even forming task forces dedicated to cleaning up the creek.
A frequenter of the Burnt Mills trail and volunteer for a creek clean-up group, Joan, said “having trash cans available [and] even porta-potties” could help decrease the amounts of litter and waste in the area.
Joan additionally said “spreading the message” would discourage litterers and prompt people to place their trash in the correct places.
Plastic bottles and soda cans are not the only frequent contaminators of the local ecosystem. Dog owners leave bags of their pet’s feces hanging from branches, or simply don’t pick it up, to begin with.
These increasing levels of pet waste have led to runoff pollution and fecal contamination of waterways, most notably the Sligo Creek.
According to data collected by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) in December of 2016, Sligo Creek ranked 25th out of 40 sites tested in Montgomery County for cleanliness and amount of fecal particles per 100 milliliters of water.
The primary cause of 80 to 100 percent of this pollution was found to be “pets, wildlife, and agriculture, and the predominate source avian/waterfowl.”
Within fecal and runoff contamination polluting our local waterways, it is vital for these problems to be addressed by the government through lasting sanitary and waste solutions.
This photo story was created by Frances O’Connor and Hailey Mitchell, two Montgomery County teenagers. Through their photography, they hope to reveal the constant environmental issues that are in urgent need of government attention in order to ensure an environmentally stable present and future.