Arlington Citizen-Journal

Arlington resident launches creek cleanup. ‘We’ve become blind to the garbage’

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Social media can be used for a lot more than political debates.

Angel Carter of Arlington is proving this as she is using it to round up volunteers for a project that is dear to her: cleaning up the shores of Fish Creek, near her neighborhood in southeast Arlington.

Carter launched the Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge on Facebook in January. She is asking for volunteers to join her Saturday to help her clean up a four-mile stretch of land between Matlock Road and State Highway 360.

Carter plans to be there at 9 a.m., and volunteers are welcome to join her. The event is expected to last until around 3 p.m. Volunteers are asked to meet at 9 a.m. either near the restrooms at Cravens Park or at the gazebo in Fish Creek Neighborhood Park.

“The immediate goal is to clean the creek of as much debris as possible. Otherwise, it gets washed down to the Trinity (River),” Carter said.

“I’m a 50-year-old woman with fibromyalgia, arthritis and PTSD. If I can wrestle shopping carts out of the creek and fill bags of trash, surely a few thousand of my closest friends and neighbors can find 30 minutes.”

The response has been strong.

“I’ve got people coming from other places besides Arlington, and they want to go to back to their own city and see what they can do there,” Carter said.

“We’ve got to get it done before spring when snakes are out in full force, before mosquitoes are out in full. I want people to feel safe getting out there and using it. The City of Arlington just doesn’t have the manpower right now.”

Carter has been sharing photos on the event Facebook page to raise awareness about the creek conditions and the need for cleanup along the popular walking trail. Some of the debris includes large items, such tires, fence panels, shopping carts, and vehicle parts.

“I found my third safe over there the other day,” Carter said. “We’ve become blind to the garbage. It’s a societal problem, and this place is suffocating. I find myself asking is that a turtle or another ball thrown away?”

The City of Arlington is providing resources for the event, including trash bags, large trash containers and gloves. Volunteers should wear comfortable clothes and rain boots or waders if they are willing to help out in the muddy areas. Volunteers are also encouraged to bring their own supplies, such as trash grabbers.

“Neighborhood cleanups are not uncommon, but I cannot recall any volunteer cleanup event of this magnitude organized by one person,” Arlington City Councilwoman Roxanne Thalman said. “Angel Carter has done an amazing job of pulling resources together.

“This event is particularly significant because it shows how much can be accomplished because one person saw a need and took the first step. People are eager to help when they see the opportunity, but very few take the initiative to start a huge project.”

Volunteers should also bring their coats. Temperatures are forecast to hover around 40 with cloudy skies..

Linda Finley, a community watch coordinator for Webb Britton Estates, is helping Carter organize volunteers for the cleanup. Among groups that have committed to volunteer include the Arlington Highlands Rotary Club, Webb Britton Estates, and St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church.

“If a church has a congregation of 200 and we can get 10 percent to help, that’s great,” Carter said.

A Marine veteran, Carter was able to challenge Marine recruiters and extended the challenge to the Air Force and Army.

“The military’s been awesome,” Carter said. “We raised awareness, and now we’ve got to continue this to keep it from happening again.”

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