ESSEX—While most elementary-age youth pursue recreational activities over the summer like little league or travel, two young boys in Essex dedicated their time to cleaning up the Back River.
Connor Greaver and Lennon McNamara, both from Essex, have spent countless hours pulling trash and debris out of the Back River, wearing chest-high waders and protective gloves that cover the length of their arms. McNamara told The Dundalk Eagle and The Avenue News that he started at the beginning of summer. Greaver said he started during the final two weeks before school began.
“I wanted to help the river get cleaned up,” McNamara said. “Since me and my (grandfather) fish here, we wouldn’t be able to catch any fish because they would all be dead.”
The Back River is an 8.8-mile long tidal estuary that extends from Rosedale to the Chesapeake Bay. To say that the Back River is polluted would be an understatement. Greaver and McNamara said that as much as 10 tons of trash and debris comes out of the river each week. The boys said they find all kinds of trash, including glass bottles, aluminum cans and plastic and paper trash.
“People just don’t throw away their trash,” Greaver said. “They just ruin the bay.”
McNamara and Greaver described some of the more bizarre things they have discovered. They boys said they recently found a two-person hot tub in the river. They said they also have found soccer balls, baseballs and baseball bats. Dead wildlife has also turned up in the Back River, they said.
“There’s an island of trash we saw on the boat,” Greaver said. “We call it Tire Island. Beavers make dams out of it.”
McNamara and Greaver said they still dedicate time to the Back River despite school being back in session. They can be found at the river on weekends, they said.
“I’m super proud of him,” Amy Schilpp-McNamara, Lennon’s mother, said. “He first learned about Back River Restoration because I brought our cub scout troop here. He was really intrigued by it. He said ‘I want to go back and I want to help out.’ I was just thrilled that my child wanted to come here and clean up the river that I grew up on.”
Greaver and McNamara demonstrated their cleanup activity for both newspapers. They walk into the water and gather the trash and debris by the shore. The trash and debris are then loaded onto a loader, where it is then dumped into a large dumpster.
Anyone who is interested in getting involved with cleanup efforts at the Back River should contact the Back River Restoration Committee. The committee’s website is www.savebackriver.org.