Ensuring our woods, streams are here for future generations

In January 1969, an oil well off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., blew out, causing a massive spill in the Santa Barbara Channel. 

The largest spill in U.S. waters at the time (it now ranks third after Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez), Santa Barbara soon found an estimated 80,000 to 10,000 barrels of crude oil washing up onto its beaches, killing thousands of marine animals.

The American public was so outraged by the spill that it not only saw the passage of several environmental regulations and laws, but it also led to the creation of the modern environmental movement in the United States, including Earth Day, celebrated every year since 1970 on April 22.

Earth Day was the brainchild of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. Nelson’s original idea was a “teach-in” on college campuses across the country, but since then, it has become synonymous with litter cleanups large and small.

Each year, the James River Basin Partnership holds an annual Earth Day cleanup along the James River and the shoreline of Lake Springfield. 

We average 70-90 attendees doing their part and picking up debris in a truly inspiring gesture. Families, senior citizens, college students, employees from local businesses — all come together to protect our local waters.

It’s always fun to see what unusual pieces of river flotsam and jetsam will come in a canoe or from a river access. 

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