COLUMBUS, Ohio — Since the start of 2021, a Columbus volunteer group has picked up more than 6,000 pounds of trash along roadways, creeks and abandoned homes.
Michael Chapman, one of the founders of Clear Creeks and Byways, said he has been wanting to form a group to clean up Columbus for a while.
But a kayaking trip two and a half years ago from Big Walnut Creek to the Scioto River in Pickaway County with Ted Davis, the other founder of the group, is what really sparked Chapman to put his idea into action.
"We just started counting tires along the way. It was like 'hey, there's like four or five tires.' Let's just count them and see what we get up to," Chapman said.
At the end of an 11-mile stretch, Chapman said the two collected more than 130 tires.
During a small roadside clean-up in January along Williams Road on the south side of Columbus, Davis encouraged Chapman to get back on social media to get the group going.
Since then, the Clear Creeks and Byways Facebook group has grown to nearly 400 members.
Coming into Saturday, Chapman said the group has cleaned up about 3,200 pounds of roadside trash, including auto parts, beer bottles, and other recyclables.
After cleaning up an abandoned home on Corr Road where someone dumped concrete, Chapman said the group has picked up more than 6,000 pounds since March on the southside of Columbus.
That's not counting tires, couches, mattresses and other large items found along the way. Chapman says he reaches out to the city's Keep Columbus Beautiful campaign to pick up the larger items.
Since the group has grown, Chapman said he's applied to become a nonprofit so he can grow it more and recycle more of the trash being picked up.
"That would be a dream down the road to actually employ other people to separate and recycle this stuff because that can be hours and days of work," Chapman said.
Being an avid outdoorsman, Chapman wants to focus on creeks this summer. Chapman says he is working with Trapper John's Canoe Livery in Grove City to help along the creekbanks.
Clear Creeks and Byways adopted the area near South High Street and Williams Road to clean up three times a year in addition to other small roadways they have cleaned.
You can find out more about the group on their Facebook page here.