A Very Busy Trail: MLK Day of Service on the Met Branch

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 180 folks woke up early, layered up, and joined WABA and the Carlos Rosario School for a morning cleanup on the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

Photo: Carlos Rosario School

Volunteers scoured the trail corridor for trash and debris. It warmed my heart to see the trail so alive with people, including many first-time visitors. Even better—by lunchtime, this community treasure was cleaner than it’s been in a long while.

Photo: Carlos Rosario School

In addition to trash removal the full length of the trail, we had three specific project sites tackling some long-standing issues.

Revealing the Mural

Photo: Carlos Rosario School

One of the oldest murals on the trail, Change Gears, has been mostly obscured by climbing vines few years now. We’ve done some work to keep the vegetation in check, but this time we had the people-power, materials, and tools to stem the growth.

Before

During
Photo: Carlos Rosario School

After

We suppressed the roots with burlap bags as a weed barrier, downcycled from Swings Coffee, and six-inches of mulch also downcycled from a tree cut down in the District a few days prior. The tree was no longer safe to be on our city streets but it has a new role on the trail.

It took many hands to get the mulch from the drop-off site on a nearby street to its final home on the trail – thank you volunteers!

Emptying the Ravine

Farther north on the trail, we did our annual cleanup of the ravine at Rhode Island Ave NE. In addition to a lot of takeout containers, we found:

  • a tire
  • a porcelain toilet (mercifully empty)
  • a scythe (we’re still pretty confused about this one)

Look at all these bags of trash!

Photo: Carlos Rosario School

Clearing the Hill

And our third major site was trash and vine removal from the hillside between Rhode Island Ave and Edgewood Pl NE.

Photo: Carlos Rosario School

Though the hillside had a lot of native planting when the trail was first unveiled, destructive and invasive porcelain-berry had taken over many trees. Fifteen folks and one dog scoured the hillside to find which trees needed help and cutting a buffer between roots and vine canopy. By cutting off their connection to the ground, the vines will no longer be able to grow and smother the trail-side canopy this spring.

A few more photos of the event can be found here.

Thank you!

It takes a neighborhood to succeed at large events like this cleanup. A huge thank you to our event co-host Carlos Rosario School’s Sonia Gutierrez Campus, particularly the Student Services team and Student Government, and to Whole Foods for sponsoring coffee and breakfast for 180 volunteers. Additional thanks to Community Capital Corporation for space and tools, second year sponsor Career Path DC for trash removal, Treeman Inc for 10 cubic yards of fresh mulch, the District Department of Energy and the Environment for consulting and loaning tools, the District Department of Park and Recreation for loaning tools, to Kevin and Sam for lending their wheelbarrows, and the District Department on Transportation for mulch support and making the DC Trail Ranger team possible.

Photo: Carlos Rosario School