Annual Cabin John Creek Cleanups

Everything we throw away, recycle, or lose that doesn't get collected and delivered to a waste transfer station can end up in and along our waterways.  It's unsightly and can harm aquatic plants and animals in creeks, rivers, bays, and even the oceans.


For example, cigarette butts are toxic for animals when eaten and can leach toxic chemicals in the river. Plastic bags, in addition to being a dangerous choking and digestion hazard, can break down into hormone-like chemicals that disrupt normal reproduction. In fact, over 80 percent of male small-mouth bass in the Potomac are intersex (have female eggs).


Every spring, FOCJC conducts a cleanup of the Creek and its tributaries. This cleanup first started in Cabin John in 1996 and gets larger each year. 

In 2017, we had three cleanups and removed:

  • 51 bags of trash

  • 7 bags of recyclable materials

  • 10 wire tree cages

  • 7 tires

  • 3 wooden pallets

  • 2 rusted 50-gallon steel drums


Our hope is to enlist communities and businesses throughout the watershed to clean up the portion of the creek nearest them so that at some point in the future, every waterway will get the beauty treatment once a year.  Contact if you are interested in organizing a cleanup in your neighborhood.

2014 Maryland Coastal Clean-Up Trash Collection Results

Data from the Ocean Conservancy"s 2014 International Coastal Cleanup

Cabin John Creek Spring & Falll Cleanups
We scheduled several Cleanup Events throughout the watershed, and you are invited to join any or all of them!  A Creek Clean-Up is a wonderful way to explore new segments of the creek, or give a boost to old favorites. Get this year's cleanup dates.






Rain Date:


Dress warmly and in layers

Long pants, long-sleeved shirt, hat, sturdy shoes such as boots or waders if you have them

Bring:  Drinking water

Provided: Trash bags, work gloves

Volunteers under age 12 should be accompanied by an adult

SSL hours are available.

Clean-Up will proceed unless there's heavy rain,

Check the FoCJC homepage for updates if the forecast is rainy

Send questions to

Rules for a Safe and Successful Clean-Up
  • If the water is high, stay out of the stream channel!

  • Use the buddy system - work in pairs.

  • Be careful when picking up trash.

  • Don't put your hands where you can't see them; stream undercuts and reaching under logs and stones can be dangerous.

  • If you find a syringe, don't pick it up - notify your Team Leader.

  • Children under 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult.  Community service credits are available.

  • While Cabin John Creek is no worse than other urban streams, Montgomery County advised that residents should:

(1) avoid total body immersion (no swimming!)

(2) avoid swallowing water

(3) wash hands and/or shower after water contact