By Wayne Moyers, Engagement Coordinator

Despite the chill of winter, 52 UNC Charlotte students tackled what seemed to be a daunting task on Litter Sugar Creek: pick up as much trash as possible from the floodplain of the Hidden Valley Ecological Garden. This floodplain is designed to take water from the surrounding area to prevent flooding of homes along Little Sugar Creek. The concept works well, however, it has collected a tremendous amount of debris from heavy water flows. Trash obviously isn’t good for the environment, but it also interferes with the water flow and diminishes the safety for visitors/residents.

Eager to amend this, the students donned their gloves, waders, grabbed bags, and had at it.¬†Within an hour and a half, the group had collected a substantial pile of trash. Much of the trash was comprised of plastic bottles, old lumber, glass bottles, tin cans, aluminum cans, bags, food containers, and clothing, however, some unique items consisted of an old vacuum, a bicycle, a cell phone from the early 90’s, and tires, tires, tires. Meanwhile, local residents stopped by to show their appreciation and thank the group for their work.

By the last hour, the group convened where the creek exits the Ecological Garden and found a 100 gallon, steel tank stuck and bogged down from water, making it incredibly heavy. Determined to free this tank, the group used enthusiasm, a rope, ingenuity, and strength in numbers, to heave the tank from the creek!

Wrapping up the cleanup, all of the trash was weighed (except for the huge tank), accumulating to over 1,000 pounds of trash from the creek and a 100 gallon steel tank!

I know the residents and the wildlife are appreciative of the UNC-Charlotte students that sacrificed their Saturday to help make the Hidden Valley Ecological Garden a cleaner, safer, and more beautiful landscape. Now the ducks that live in the creek, the Great Blue Heron that strolls through the area, and the deer that graze the grasses can enjoy the city as much as we do.