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Extreme Cleanup will target trash along entire length of Rock Creek

Extreme Cleanup with Rock Creek Conservancy

Rock Creek Conservancy will host its 9th annual Extreme Cleanup on Saturday, April 22, with the goal of cleaning Rock Creek and its tributaries, the parks connected to Rock Creek, and the neighborhoods near Rock Creek where trash originates. This large-scale volunteer effort includes trash cleanups at more than 75 locations along the 33-mile length of Rock Creek.

In the Rock Creek watershed, trash accumulates through littering and illegal dumping of large items, such as furniture and construction waste. When it rains, litter from the street gutters in surrounding neighborhoods wash into the storm sewer system that drains straight to the nearest creek. In the past eight years, Extreme Cleanup volunteers have collected a combined total of over 15,000 bags of litter, 75 tons of junk, 900 tires, and 38,000 plastic bags.

“As a result of the efforts by Extreme Cleanup volunteers, Rock Creek and its adjacent locations are much cleaner, but there is still plenty of work to be done,” said Matthew Fleischer, Rock Creek Conservancy’s Executive Director. “We hope to see a big turnout this year and encourage anyone—from companies and organizations to families and students—to join us on this day of work in the Rock Creek watershed.”

The Extreme Cleanup is part of the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, which occurs in four states and the District of Columbia in April. Volunteers with the Conservancy do their part for a trash-free Potomac River by cleaning up Rock Creek, which flows into the Potomac near the Watergate Complex and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

Additional Extreme Cleanup partners include Blue Planet Scuba, DC Parks & Recreation, Montgomery County Parks, and the National Park Service.

For more information about the Extreme Cleanup or to register for a site, visit Those who would like to host a cleanup at their own site with a private group or public volunteers may email

RCC responds to slash in Chesapeake Bay Program funding

Statement from Matthew Fleischer, executive director:

Rock Creek Conservancy is disheartened to hear that President Trump’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 eliminates funding for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup project, a program supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Bay Program, which receives $73 million per year, is a regional partnership that has led the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay since 1983. Program partners include federal, state, and local governments as well as nonprofit organizations—including foundations and trusts that support the work of Rock Creek Conservancy.

Clean water should be a priority to our elected officials. Unfortunately, the President’s budget says otherwise. More than 18 million people living in the Chesapeake Bay watershed could suffer if this recommendation stands. Because the health of Rock Creek impacts the health of the Chesapeake Bay, we ask our constituents to contact legislators and tell them you support restored funding for the Bay Program.


RCC comments on Nature Center Plan

Rock Creek Conservancy has submitted comments to the National Park Service regarding its Nature Center Complex Development Concept Plan. These comments reflect the work done with Rock Creek Park stakeholders, results from the Green Ribbon Panel that was commissioned for the Park's 125th anniversary, our Strategic Plan, and the Park's own documents. 

Highlights include:

  • We strongly support improved Park facilities. Desired results include the removal of the fewest large trees, proper stormwater management, the protection of wildlife and native vegetation, and an enhanced visitor experience through education and access.
  • We support expanding or rebuilding the Nature Center with a restored or enhanced nature trail. We do not want to see the construction of a canopy walk without the consideration of mature trees in the area. We also hope that any upgrades to the facility will include stormwater management. 
  • Our desire is to see the Park explain its operational objectives and limitations in order to assess the priority, costs, and benefits of changes to the Horse Center relative to other resource needs. If the footprint of the Horse Center is expanded and the surrounding natural environment is threatened, we will have concerns
  • Any activities to improve the Maintenance Area must not adversely affect bird habitat. It is our desire that any improvements will not just focus on the facilities themselves, but the enhancement of the habitat, also.
  • We believe Miller Cabin should be rehabilitated in its current location on Beach Drive.
  • Overall, we are unsure if the proposed concepts sufficiently manage vegetation for wildlife in areas around the Nature Center, Maintenance Yard, and Horse Center. We urge the Park to improve vegetation management for wildlife by minimizing the removal of trees, minimizing mowing, maintaining native vines and shrubs, and using native plants when re-landscaping.   

To read the comments in their entirety, click here

RCC Board welcomes new leaders

This year we are welcoming six new members to our Board of Directors. Representing a variety of backgrounds and talents, these individuals will serve a two-year term. They include:

  • Tracy Church: Church develops strategic plans for philanthropy and oversees fundraising for Nursing and Patient Services, Children’s Research Institute, Center for Neuroscience and Behavioral Medicine, Mind Brain Institute, Institute for Anticipatory Medicine and priority projects for Children’s National Medical Center.
  • David DeSantis: DeSantis, a partner at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, has 25 years of experience in sales, public relations, marketing and management. He is a recipient of numerous awards for real estate marketing and sales in the Washington, DC area, and is one of Washington’s top brokers serving diplomatic, high-profile and international clients.
  • Gary Guzy: Guzy is Senior of Counsel at Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, DC, where he is a member of the firm’s environmental, clean energy, public policy, and government affairs practices. Before joining Covington, Gary served as Deputy Director and General Counsel of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
  • David London: London is a senior government relations executive who has provided strategic counsel and direction pertaining to critical public policy, regulatory and crisis-driven issues facing technology and e-commerce companies. He has collaborated with multiple levels of government, including federal, state and local as well as throughout Canada and Latin America.
  • Jason Reid: Reid is currently Vice President of the Stagwell Group, a marketing services focused Private Equity group, where he manages the investment team. Reid previously served institutions as an investment professional with a sector focus on technology, media and telecom and generalist event-driven strategies. He has experience in public equities and private market idea generation, evaluation, and execution through more than a decade of hedge fund, private equity, investment banking and corporate strategy roles.
  • Danielle M. Reyes: Reyes serves as the executive director of the Crimsonbridge Foundation, a Bethesda-based foundation that is the primary grantmaking arm of the social investment and philanthropic platform The Crimsonbridge Group. She is creator and owner of the popular outdoor fitness company Yoga Hikes DC, which specializes in outdoor yoga and hiking for groups.

Rock Creek Conservancy’s Board of Directors is responsible for determining how the Conservancy carries out its mission through long-range and short-range planning and review; adopting an annual budget and providing fiscal oversight; and ensuring the organization has the financial resources it needs, among other things.

“Millions of people will benefit from a clean and protected Rock Creek, and it is now more important than ever to have strong leadership in place as we continue to fulfill our mission,” said Matthew Fleischer, the Conservancy’s Executive Director. “Rock Creek Conservancy is honored to work with these new individuals who will offer a diverse array of skills to an already talented Board of Directors.”

Board officers are Scott Siff, president; Katherine Schinasi, vice president; Sambhav Sankar, treasurer; and Betty Kotcher, secretary. Additional directors include Tracy Bowen, Kathy Byrd, Karen Cooper, Alan Fleischmann, Dennis McClellan, Jane Paul, Allison Bartlett Rumsey, Sam Shelton, and Ted Trabue. Visit for more information.


Piney Branch & Rock Creek Songbirds

The Piney Branch stream is probably the most compromised of all the major tributaries to Rock Creek in the Washington, DC section of the waterway. The Piney Branch watershed covers approximately 2,500 acres, 95 percent of which is impervious surface. The presence of a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) system magnifies the pollution of the tributary. The 67-acre Piney Branch section of Rock Creek is largely wooded, but the tree canopy is aging and regeneration of the forests has been limited by deer browse and invasive plants. 

Chestnut and white oak, beech, and tulip poplar are among the dominant tree species of the stream valley, and persimmon, sassafras and elderberry can be found under the forest canopy. 

Piney Branch and SOLVE

Piney Branch Graphic

Rock Creek Conservancy has a formal agreement with Rock Creek Park designating Piney Branch as a SOLVE site. Launched in 2015 as part of Rock Creek Park's 125th birthday, SOLVE is a program that enables interested individuals and groups to adopt, care for, and look after a part of the Park. In Piney Branch, volunteer tasks include trash pickup and invasive exotic plant removal. 

Rock Creek Songbirds


Rock Creek Conservancy is proud to be a partner of the Rock Creek Songbirds habitat restoration project. Steve Dryden, a founding RCC board member, created the Songbirds initiative to improve the Piney Branch section of the Park for nature and people. Since 2013, the initiative has planted or protected close to 500 native trees, assisted by RCC volunteers who have cleared invasive plants and cleaned up trash. Tree plantings in this area are intended to thicken the tree canopy and understory to make the habitat more attractive to birds.

The mission of Rock Creek Songbirds is to restore habitat for migratory birds in the Park and engage the nearby Latino community. Using the migratory story, presentations are made in local schools to students whose families often are from the many Latin countries where the birds spend the winter months. Students have helped to plant trees and protect native species near their school grounds. Art projects include the creation of "Welcome Back Songbirds" banners that are hung in the school's foyer when birds return in the spring. So far, more than 350 students and youth have participated in programs about the migratory phenomenon.

RCC and the Songbirds project are also working to make improvements at the picnic pavilion on Piney Branch Parkway, the only such facility on the eastern side of the Park. Heavily used by the public, especially Latino residents, the pavilion lacks a fireplace and other amenities.