Trail Rangers do lots of different trail projects: promote trails, answer questions, clip back vegetation, ride trails (and write the word “trails” a lot). Why do Trail Rangers spend some of their time removing trash?
We want more folks wanting to feel trails are welcoming and use trails. People don’t like walking or biking through trash – it’s not fun to look at or be around. Studies have found that litter on trail decreased trail use by 20%. Trails are appealing for a number of reasons but being outside in the natural world is a common one – does this look appealing to you?
Another study found that how folks perceive safety is influenced by trash – eliminating litter from an image increased the perception of safety 30%. It’s hard to encourage more folks to enjoy trails if they feel unsafe or that it’s not a pleasant place to spend their time.
Trash can cause problems. It’s much easier to pick up a whole glass bottle just off the trail now before it breaks and causes flat tires. And it’s no fun to fall because you hit a carryout container just right and then–whee, sideways!
We want a healthy environment. All of our trails are part of the Anacostia River watershed, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay. Trash in the river has been so bad in recent years that the Anacostia River was declared “impaired by trash” by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act. Whatever we don’t pick up will eventually likely go into the bay and from there into the ocean (unless it’s picked up by a few trash traps or the DC Water skimmer but they only make a dent). Plastic and manmade materials are not part of the ocean ecology – let’s keep them out!
So how do you help the team and encourage more folks to be on the trails?
Don’t litter. We’d rather be doing something else! Save us a step.
Request a trash can! There are definitely places along the trails and roads that have higher incidence of litter because people expect there to be a trash can (ex: Stanton Rd and Suitland Parkway). There is a whole category in the city 311 reporting system on requesting new trash cans
More info about effective 311 reports here.
Join the team for a cleanup! We do public cleanups a few times a year to make a bigger impact. The next one is January 15th for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. More details and signup here.
Get updates for all of cleanups by joining our email list. Yes!
Also lots of other organizations are involved in trash reduction efforts so if you’re not near a Trail Ranger trail, there is probably something going on close to you!
Fourteen friends of the Metropolitan Branch Trail gathered at the Paul Meijer Garden this Sunday for a short garden cleanup. The garden is filled with tulip bulbs to honor Paul’s Dutch roots but a summer of enthusiastic Bermuda grass growth meant they would be chocked out next spring.
We pulled out as much of the grass and other weeds as we could, spread a light mulch layer and prepped the garden for growth next spring after a dormant winter. And in trail reclamation bonus, the mulch was from a tree on the trail. It was no longer safe as a tree but it has a new life in the garden!
Thanks to everyone who joined us, and to Rich and Dan for going above and beyond with extra supplies!
The DC Trail Ranger program went into its annual winter reduced operations in October. The team did important work this summer and we had so much fun.
Huge thanks to Daniel, Gabriel, Harum, Kemi, Kevin, Seth, Shira, Tom and Trey for being the greatest 2017 Trail Ranger team we could imagine.
- 3,173 miles covered
- 232 hours of outreach
- conversations with 3,747 people
- 1,000 bike bells distributed
- 385 hours of cleanup
- 113 issues reported to the city
- 2,617 DC bike maps distributed
Interested in being a trail ranger? Sign up to hear about future job openings Yes!
Want to volunteer with the team next year? Yes!
For the second year, there was a bit more green space on Minnesota Ave NE as the WABA Trail Ranger team celebrated Park(ing) Day, part of an international effort to reclaim our public space and think creatively about its best use. In collaboration with DDOT Urban Forestry, Capital Bikeshare, and Anacostia Park & Planning Collaborative, we built a park!
Out went parking for one car. Instead the 8′ by 20′ spot was home to tables for eating lunch, trees, a bike fence and native plants. We had a number of pollinators visiting us all afternoon, snacking on the goldenrod, asters and other flowering plants from Urban Forestry. Anacostia Park and Planning brought a satellite map of the river corridor and we had great conversations about the nearby trails and how connectivity or lack thereof affects trail use.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by the park and all of our fabulous park partners!
The DC Trail Ranger team partnered with the National Park Service this summer to lead a ride series exploring the rich history of the Anacostia River Trail. We had so much fun learning about the trail!
Which bridges were burned in the War of 1812? What is the story of the ship Pearl? Where in Anacostia Park did the Bonus Army camp? What led to the violence at the Anacostia Pool in 1968? Anacostia River Trail and Anacostia Park have seen both the freedom and oppression of people, to just and unjust decisions by those in power.
Check out all of the sights from our Tales and Trails ride series below:
May – A Monument to Civil Rights
Staring off the story
Bonus army at Anacostia Park. Credit: Signal corps photographer. NAID 593253
Hearing from Evelyn McLean
Notice the Navy Yard behind. Credit: Library of Congress (LC-DIG-hec-36887)
And now MacArthur is at the 11th St Bridge.
Where did thousands of veterans live in Washington DC while demanding the payment of promised World War I bonuses? Anacostia Park! The park was home to the primary camp for the Bonus Army in 1932. Learn more from the National Park Service.
June – Legacies of the Nation’s River
A lawsuit is filed
And a river way dredged
A hot summer and a closed pool
Violence at the 1949 Anacostia Pool. Credit: Unknown photographer, Flickr: Washington Area Spark
We moved through a big timeline on this ride, starting with talking about the Nacotchtank village on the east bank of the Anacostia, the largest Native American village in the DC boundaries. John Smith sailed the river, the plans for Kingman Island kept changing and there was a big lawsuit about the appearance of the Navy Yard gate. We ended in the modern era on the 1949 riots at the Anacostia Pool over DC Recreation Board and white residents’ refusal to integrate.
July – Bikes, Blooms and Botany
Photo credit: Liz McNichol
Finally – plants! Lots of conversation about the fabulous Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens that are right off the trail, but we also saw the capped Kenilworth Dump sprouting monarch butterflies’ favorite food – milkweed, and talked about the silting up of the Anacostia due to deforestation to build Civil War forts.
August – War of 1812: Battles, Burning and Dueling
The British were here! It was a firepower team of WABA, Maryland Milestones, and National Park Service that led our August ride to learn about the Battle of Bladensburg and subsequent burning of the Capitol. We saw the American lines of defense, toured the dueling grounds and ended at the Navy Yard to cover the destruction of Fort McNair and the Navy Yard (Pro tip: Don’t destroy cannons within sparking distance of a well you recently dumped a military fort’s worth of gunpowder barrels down. The gunpowder might not be quite wet and likely to explode.)
Huge thanks to the District Department of Transportation for making the DC Trail Ranger team possible and the National Capital Parks East unit of National Park Service for telling the stories of the park with us.
We’d love your feedback on the ride series if you joined us this summer
Want to keep up to date on Trail Ranger happenings by email? Yes!
WABA’s Trail Rangers are a near-constant presence on DC’s trails, and they work harder than just about anybody else around here. Here, for the first time, is your chance to experience a day in the life of a Trail Ranger. Enjoy!
Interested in keeping in touch with the team? Sign up here! Yes!
Photo credit: 501pix Photography
All is quiet at 6:30 am
Grabbing the tools for the day
Checklists are a vital part of a smooth operation (who remembers everything at 6:30 am?!) Part of having 10 part-time team members means we need organized written communication
We recycle what we can but contamination means we must trash some recyclables as well. Paper bags for glass, clear bags for recycling and thin & thick black bags for trash.
We go through a lot of sunscreen
Checking the shift details clipboard one last time
Trailers require careful navigation
For the next 6 hours, the team will be on the bikes.
And we’re on the trail now – Frederick Douglass Bridge on the Anacostia River Trail
First task of the day: remove the popup trail etiquette signs we had installed on the Anacostia River Trail for a busy weekend before heading to Marvin Gaye Trail, the assigned trail for the shift
The first trail etiquette sign of the day
The new Kenilworth section of the Anacostia River Trail is a pretty great place to be
And now its off to Marvin Gaye Trail. First task, assessing what trimming is needed – it’s a balancing act. Trail maintenance standards call for 2′ vegetation free buffer on the side and 10′ tall but we also want to maintain the habitat and shade of the trail.
We strive to deposit trash on site as much as we can – less to bike around!
Trash and glass make riding unpleasant and unsafe
Marvin Gaye Trail is busy!
Documenting another blowdown from a summer storm
Clearing up the leaves
Lunch at Marvin Gaye Recreation Center (not pictured: an excellent musical themed splash park)
Back on the Marvin Gaye Trail. The flagging tape is useful to warn other road and trail users of our long broom handles
Trails are not just where we work, they are also good connectors to the other trails we ride. Up the Metropolitan Branch Trail back to the office.
Whew, back to the office to finish up reports for the day, put the supplies away and clock out at 2:30 pm.
Thinking through the shift to report on what we did – exactly how many people did we talk to? On the wall: our six bike fleet is a tight fit but we have bikes in all sizes to fit a varied team
All vegetation gloves are washed before being used again to stop the transfer of potential poison ivy oil
Behind the scenes (L-R): Tom (DC Trail Ranger/501pix Photography), Ursula (Program Coordinator), Daniel (DC Trail Ranger) and Trey (DC Trail Ranger)
Whew! That was quite a ride, wasn’t it? Next time you see a Trail Ranger be sure to give them a wave and a smile. They’re working hard to make the trail better for all of us.
Full photo shoot can be found here.
The DC Trail Ranger team will be out and about at Farmers Markets across the city this month. Check out our outreach schedule below. Come by and say hi!
Trail Ranger Coffee Hour
August 11th, 7:30 am – 9:30 am
4th St NE on the Metropolitan Branch Trail
Say hi to fellow trail users at our monthly free coffee hour!
Capitol Riverfront Farmers Market
August 13th, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
200 M St SE
SW Farmers Market
August 19th, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
4th and M St SW
Gallaudet New Student Orientation
August 23rd, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Starting at Gallaudet this fall? Come by and learn about the trails near campus.
Kenilworth-Parkside Farmers Market
August 26th, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
750 Parkside Place NE
H St Festival
September 16th, 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
H St NE corridor
DC State Fair
September 24th, 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
425 M St SW