This past Saturday, WABA’s Trail Rangers teamed up with an industrious crew of volunteers to tackle our second trail cleanup — this time on the Suitland Parkway Trial in SE DC. Starting at 10 am with an invigorating chill in the air and the sun at our backs, we took up shovels and rakes and loppers to reclaim the trail from a long period of unchecked growth and spotty maintenance. While no amount of handiwork can beat a good resurfacing, in just four hours our crew transformed almost three quarters of a mile of trail. Combined with renewed focus from DDOT and our Trail Ranger program, the SPT is taking big steps towards recovery.
For most of our 12 volunteers, the Suitland Parkway Trial had been just a squiggle on a map or an anonymous stretch of pavement along a scenic drive. Saturday served as a personal introduction to its hills and greenery, the places it connects and those it could, and some of the challenges the trail, and those who use it, face each day. Put in context, it has tremendous potential for recreation around nearby neighborhoods and for getting around the region. Cleaning it up is the first step.
Once we started ripping out vines and shoveling back dirt, it was tough to stop. Every additional bag filled and foot of pavement swept highlighted the contrast of order behind us and disorder ahead. The crew attacked just about every challenge the trail threw at us including some fierce pricklers, excessive garbage, tangled nets of vines, and ubiquitous glass. While it is tough work, motivation to keep going was never in short supply.
The first two hours flew by, and we stopped for lunch. Thanks to the incredible generosity and support of our friends at Chipotle, everyone who lent a hand feasted on a hearty lunch of chips and a burrito. While we ate, we discussed some of our hopes for future projects to improve the SPT’s neighborhood connections, links to trails into Downtown, and to destinations farther along the parkway. With renewed energy, we spent another putting the finishing touches on our work area.
By 2 pm when we started packing up for the day, we’d successfully bagged over 15 large bags of trail debris and cleared an immense amount of vegetation, soil, and other hidden surprises from the trail corridor. Along the way, we unearthed tires, a couch, a rideable bike, traffic cones, and much more. The trail is now cleaner, wider, smoother, more inviting and all-around better than it has all year.
Thanks go out to our incredible trail crew for their efforts and enthusiasm in making this happen and to Chipotle for sustaining us through it. For more photos of the day, find our photo set on Flickr here.