Rural Lifestyle

Environmentalism : Volunteers sought for Bayou Bartholomew cleanup

The world’s longest bayou could use a little help on Saturday, May 26, from litter-removing volunteers to help keep the waterway from suffering a similar fate as that part of the Pacific Ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.



The Bayou Bartholomew Cleanup and Discovery Day is a watershed stewardship event designed to immerse participants in nature, remove litter from the environment and learn a little bit about one of Arkansas’ natural wonders.



The event runs 9 a.m. until noon and begins at the Dr. Curtis Merrell Access to the Bayou Bartholomew Water Trail, located at 5401 S. Olive St. in Pine Bluff. Partners in the event include Keep Arkansas Beautiful, the City of Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, and the Jefferson County Solid Waste District.



Bayou Bartholomew winds nearly 400 miles through Arkansas into Louisiana before it empties into the Ouachita River.



“According to ‘Scientific Reports,’ an international science journal, the size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has increased to twice the size of Texas, and is composed of mostly plastic; with large amounts of glass, metal, paper, cloth, and also present,” said John Pennington, extension stormwater educator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, most of this marine debris comes directly from littering or poor solid waste management practices, such as continuing to pile trash on an already overfilled waste receptacle.”



Pennington said that “in most urbanized watersheds, pollutants — such as litter — get washed into storm drains by rain water and carried directly into creeks, bayous and lakes untreated.



“Once trash ends up in these waterways, it causes negative economic impacts by lowering recreational quality, causing harm to wildlife, endangering water quality and marine food supplies and diminishing overall quality of life,” he said.



“Fortunately, individuals and groups wanting to improve their community, water and wildlife habitat quality, and quality of life from the bayou to the ocean can make a positive impact by joining in the effort to remove litter from both their communities and the wild places that they like to visit,” Pennington said.



To learn more about participating in the Bayou Bartholomew Cleanup and Watershed Discovery Day or about protecting water quality, contact Jefferson County urban stormwater agent John Pennington at or visit


University of Arkansas 



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Terry Simmons