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A River Runs Through Us

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By Ann Ferguson

The NorthEast Branch of the Anacostia River is a unique feature in our town. A very special group working to save and improve this natural waterway is the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS).

We realize that some bad habits, developed over decades, had deteriorated the habitat of assorted species of wildlife that once lived in harmony in this area--particularly drawn to the Branch. In the past year I have been given reports that show the efforts of AWS are turning things around. A mating pair of bluebirds took up residence in a birdhouse on Somerset Road--a Blue Heron can be seen regularly perching on an outcrop of rocks at the Riverdale Road bridge--a Big Horned Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, and Red Fox have also been sighted in the vicinity of the Branch. And, most recently, a group of Mallard Ducks landed in the water off the Riverdale Road bridge.

The sightings of this assortment of wildlife mean that the once befouled habitat is being regenerated and is inviting once again to these creatures of nature.

AWS has been working without discouragement for years to make a difference in the condition of the Anacostia River. It solicits volunteers and performs clean-ups each year to rid the river and its branches of debris and pollutants--it plants and waters hundreds of trees to increase the shade and cleansing effect they bring to the water. AWS conducts pontoon boat rides from the Bladensburg Marina to give the public a firsthand glimpse of the beauty of the waterway. It stays alert to threats that would turn the clock back to the days of neglect and abuse.

As the year 2000 comes to a close I encourage residents to consider joining AWS to support its efforts. As a member you will receive The Voice of the River, a quarterly newsletter with information on the ongoing efforts of this fine group of people. Membership is $25 and can be sent to:

Anacostia Watershed Society
The George Washington House
4302 Baltimore Avenue
Bladensburg, MD 20710

To learn more about AWS you can check out their web site at http://www.anacostiaws.org.

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