It has been two years since I participated in a cleanup at Cannon Creek. The amount of trash was not the issue from what I recall, it was the type of trash. There were hundreds of tires, couches and old deteriorated mattresses that had become buried in the mud. It took truckloads to remove the trash, and I don’t think we moved more than 50 feet while we were there.
An article from NBC12 quoted that “two clean-up efforts over the last three years have removed more than 30 tons of trash and more than 400 tires.” There was a few tires and plenty of bottles and cans, but not like I’d previously witnessed. Also, one side of the ravine has had much of the invasive plants like English ivy removed, which should give the native plants at chance to grow — and maybe stop hiding trash that people dump there.
“People have viewed this area as a wasteland for trash for decades,” said Chris French of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. It was obvious then that Cannon Creek needed to be loved and that the residents of the area needed to learn to protect it. The City of Richmond Planning Commission approved the creation of a new greenway along the Richmond-Henrico Turnpike on Feb. 22. That opens the way for the trails to become a reality and for that North Richmond neighborhood to create something they can be proud of.
Cannon Creek should be part of a larger network of greenways in Richmond, but it won’t just be good for the biking and hiking community. According to French, Richmond Community High School is located just two blocks away from the park and plans to make regular use of the greenway as “an outdoor classroom….It will be great having these outdoor resources for kids.”
While digging up a crushed plastic jug from under a pile of leaves, French made “a unique find” — a red back and a lead back salamander. Those types of salamanders are typical of woodland areas, French said. They prefer the moist habitats of evergreen, mixed, and deciduous forests and are commonly found under logs, rocks, and leaf litter.
“This is a sign of high biological diversity. An indicator that nature and animals are trying to hold on to their habit,” despite the many changes and alterations by human hands.
One observation that was a little vexing was the site of a car that had recently been dropped off the roadway, straight down into the ravine. Two City of Richmond sanitation workers were inspecting the car and I could overhear them trying to figure out how to get it out. Some habits might be harder to break than others for some people.
The cleanup was not well-attended (likely due to unexpected rain the night before), but the people there were thrilled. There was a Richmond Community teacher and two students from the school there that were having a blast. The amount of trash was mostly limited to things that would fit in a garbage bag, which is a huge improvement in my book.