Anacostia River

DC Offers Free Canoes, Kayaks in Exchange for Litter Cleanup

The Green Boats initiative is already fully booked through May 22

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrated Earth Day by announcing a new program where people can use canoes and kayaks on the Anacostia River for free.

The new “Green Boats” program is designed to enlist residents to track the amount of trash in the river and keep the waterway clean.

“This program will provide residents and neighbors with an easy and fun way to explore the Anacostia using canoes or kayaks. We’re proud, too, that the program will be free,” Bowser said. “That said, we will ask participants to pitch in, and to pitch in by doing a little litter cleanup while they’re out enjoying the river.”

Each canoe will come with tools to pick trash out of the water. The trash will then be cataloged as part of the effort to keep the river clean.

“The Anacostia River is cleaner than it’s been in over 50 years,” said Tommy Wells, the director of D.C.’s Department of Energy and Environment.

Wells credits the bags D.C. shoppers pay five cents each for as part of the river’s success. The money has also helped fun the Green Boats initiative.

The District raises $2 million to $2.5 million a year from the bag fee, Wells said.


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“Bags used to be one-quarter of the trash that we found in our rivers and in our waterways. Now it’s barely 3 to 4%, if not less.”

Wells said that now, plastic, single-use bottles are the most common item of trash found in the Anacostia River.

All boating sessions have been booked until May 22, but those who are interested can make a reservation on the Kingman Island website, which will update after Mother’s Day.

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