STEUBENVILLE - It was, "refreshingly chilly" Saturday morning for 17 Franciscan University of Steubenville students who spent four hours cleaning the banks and creek that runs through Beatty Park.
"We are getting extra credit for doing this but it is also a way of giving back to the community," explained Rachel Teague of Sugarcreek, Ohio.
Teague, an education major at the university soon found tennis shoes weren't the best footwear for crossing the creek to reach trash on the other bank.
CREEK CLEANING — Franciscan University of Steubenville students, Paul Buffington of Weirton and Rachel Harrell of St. Louis, Mo., carry bags of trash Saturday as part of efforts to clean the creek running through Beatty Park in Steubenville. -- Dave Gossett
"My feet are very cold. And I didn't bring gloves so I am a little cold this morning. But is is refreshingly chilly. And this is a really nice park," she said.
The stream cleaning campaign was a project organized by Biology Professor Eric Haenni along with Steubenville 1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto and the city's Parks and Recreation Department.
"The students started out clearing the trash and debris from the creek bed to make sure the water flows smoothly down stream. Plus this stream eventually runs into the Ohio River so whatever trash goes down the creek will find its way to the river and we don't want that," declared Haenni.
"And the students then started cleaning the banks along the creek to keep more trash from slipping into the water. This is actually a very old creek that has remarkable clarity in the water and is a habitat. You have crayfish in the creek as well as deer living in the park who use the stream as a water source. This is really a very quiet place in the middle of the city. We actually just need to make more people aware of this old park and how nice it is," continued Haenni.
"When we arrived here this morning I told the students this is the crown jewel of the park system in Steubenville. This is the oldest park and it is also a very interesting eco system. I use the park for different projects during the school year and today was a chance to clean the stream bed. They started at the very old bridge and have worked their way upstream to the cemetery," Haenni added.
"The stream and creekbed is a combination of shale and gravel with shallow pools and meandering channels. It receives stormwater drainage from adjacent properties and with the winter thaw, it is impacted by all of the trash that is rinsed off the surfaces that drain in to the stream. Previous assessments have shown a mix of trash, ranging in size from tires and building materials, to regular refuse. We are removing the trash and also clearing any tree branches or snags that are obstructing normal channel flow," Haenni said.
Michael Szoke, a university senior from Florida arrived at Beatty Park at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
"I found a lot of clothing in a bag like someone may have been living here. And we have picked up a lot of trash including cans and plastic bottles," Szoke said.
For Chris Radlicz of Connecticut, the cleanup was nostalgic.
"I was an Eagle Scout when I was back in Connecticut and we would do these types of projects. So it may be a little cold this morning but it is giving back to the community. So far we have found empty pill bottles, a television and a lot of tires. I feel like we are making a difference here," cited Radlicz.
San Diego native Stephen Telles said some of the aluminum cans appeared to be from the 1980s.
"I looked at the logos and designs on the pop and beer cans and they are older. We are also finding old wood boards, metal and trash. But it is a good way to spend a Saturday morning," remarked Telles.
"I am always happy when we have volunteers helping to clean up Beatty Park. This is where a lot of people spent time when they were kids and we are starting to see more people re-discover Beatty Park," noted DiLoreto.
"Some of my students discovered the old shelter house at the top of the trail. The roof is gone but some of the original timbers are still there along with the stone walls and fire places. The students decided it was a perfect chapel setting and decided to clean it up as well," related Haenni.
"This was originally part of Union Cemetery and at some point the land was donated to the city for a park. This is old growth trees in there and the creek is several hundred years old. It is a beautiful and historical park that so many college students don't know even exists. So I do what I can to bring students here to appreciate the beauty of the park while studying the eco system," Haenni stated.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)