Every spring, local waterways and woodlands receive a clean start as thousands of volunteers come together for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Project Clean Stream, the largest annual volunteer cleanup event in the Chesapeake Bay region.

This year, Project Clean Stream officially kicks off April 1 for its 14th year of bringing together volunteers across the Chesapeake watershed in a day of service to clean up trash in rivers, streams, creeks and parks.

Project Clean Stream began in Baltimore County in 2002 and has grown from a small community event to a watershedwide effort in all six Bay states and the District of Columbia. Deeply rooted in the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s mission, Project Clean Stream is a signature Alliance program. The Alliance coordinates local site cleanups, trains site captains and provides cleanup supplies such as trash bags and gloves. It also arranges trash removal after the cleanup is finished.

But Project Clean Stream’s true success is in our strong partnership network within the Chesapeake community — watershed organizations, community groups, schools and universities, houses of worship, and businesses — who join the Alliance in hosting thousands of cleanup sites.

Thanks to our partners across the Chesapeake watershed, 2016 was our most successful year with more than 74,000 volunteers turning out. This year, the Alliance hopes to continue to expand its efforts by rallying as many as 100,000 Project Clean Stream volunteers to remove 4 million pounds of trash at 4,000 cleanup sites!

To reach our ambitious goals, the Alliance needs help from all of the watershed’s regions, from New York to Virginia.

In 2017, we are committed to engaging more local businesses to support the project. The Alliance knows that businesses play a critical role in protecting and restoring our environment. Plus, their employees welcome hands-on opportunities to volunteer to improve their own local communities.

The Alliance’s Businesses for the Bay membership association encourages watershed businesses to take voluntary and measurable actions to support the protection and restoration of the Bay and to help the public understand the valuable role the business community plays in sustaining the health of the Chesapeake and its watershed.

By getting involved in Project Clean Stream, businesses can achieve their sustainability goals, demonstrate their commitment to the communities they serve and give their employees an opportunity to volunteer and make a difference. The Alliance works directly with businesses to coordinate cleanup sites and provide a positive and meaningful experience as stewards of the environment — improving water quality as they care for their neighborhood creeks, streams and rivers.

“Businesses for the Bay members often tell me how excited they are to have the opportunity to get outside, get dirty and bond with their colleagues at cleanup events, all while making a lasting difference in their communities and receiving recognition for their efforts,” said Corinne Stephens, Alliance business partnerships manager.

Digital Ink in Takoma Park, MD, is a sponsor of Project Clean Stream and a founding member of the Alliance’s Businesses for the Bay membership association. According to Jason Unger, Digital Ink’s founder, “Digital Ink supports Project Clean Stream because we’re a part of our local community and do what we can to help keep our streams and outdoor spaces clean and safe for everyone who lives and works here.”

In 2016, more than half of all Businesses for the Bay members were involved in Project Clean Stream or other steam and park cleanups.

Local grocery store, MOM’s Organic Market, sets the bar high. As a Businesses for the Bay Member and Project Clean Stream Sponsor, MOM’s also adopts local sites near all 15 of its stores and voluntarily maintains them through trash cleanups and invasive plant removal in every season throughout the year.

Alexandra DySard, environmental coordinator and partnership manager for MOM's Organic Market stated, “MOM’s is proud to support the Alliance’s Project Clean Stream. The program allows our staff and customers to feel a part of the solution through volunteering in their communities. Partnering with the Alliance allows us to support conservation efforts in our community and throughout the Bay, furthering our mission.”

There is no doubt that the initial impact of Project Clean Stream is a cleaner, safer, healthier and more beautiful Chesapeake watershed. But the goal of Project Clean Stream is even deeper.

It encourages participants to become stronger and long-lasting environmental and community stewards. By connecting people to their local waterways, they see how their own daily choices, like proper litter disposal, can impact waterways. As each volunteer becomes committed to their local stream and inspires others to do so, we find that Project Clean Stream’s streams stay clean.

This year, cleanups take place from March 1 to June 9. We are grateful to our 2017 Project Clean Stream sponsors: BGE, Digital Ink, Dominion Resources Inc., MOM’s Organic Market, Perdue Foundation, and the  Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

If your business is interested in getting involved in Project Clean Stream or becoming a Businesses for the Bay Member, please contact our business partnership manager, Corinne Stephens, at cstephens@allianceforthebay.org.

To become a Project Clean Stream volunteer at a site near you, to register or to host a cleanup site in your neighborhood, visit bit.ly/2lhwRmK or contact Ted Wolfe at 443-949-0575 or twolfe@allianceforthebay.org. Be the difference in your community!