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Clean Valley Council Celebrates 40 Years With Photos, Recycled Floats – and Rubber Ducks

Creative competitors head downstream during last year’s Riverfest.

The Clean Valley Council is in its 40th year of working to keep local waterways, streets and other environs free from litter and assorted debris. Environmental stewardship and education through outreach to local schools and other groups is how CVC explains it’s mission.

Twice a year CVC sponsors cleanups (the next one in the Fall concentrates on streams and rivers), which draws hundreds of volunteers annually, working in teams. This spring those teams collected 62 tons of trash. Clean Valley Council covers a wide swath of the Blue Ridge region, along with the immediate Roanoke Valley.

CVC will celebrate 40 years by taking part in the Roanoke Riverfest at Smith Park along the greenway on June 30. Those festivities will include the Recycled Regatta, where floating crafts made from scrounged materials will cruise from the Wasena Park low water bridge to Smith Park – that’s the plan anyway, that they will float.

Through June 18 CVC is also sponsoring a photography contest, encouraging shutterbugs to send in their pictures in several categories, including nature, influencer/parody (pics of a comic nature that include the CVC’s mission) and high fashion. The latter category ties into a fashion show the Council is staging in August, where models will wear outfits made from recycled materials other than typical cloth. The Fashionista group in Roanoke is working on the fashion show with CVC. “Bringing that environmental message [forward] through art,” is the idea. Should be interesting.

Twenty-four winners in the photo contest will have their credited work appear in an annual report that the CVC is preparing and perhaps other promotional materials. Mary Ann Brenchick is executive director for Clean Valley Council. “Why not share everybody’s story along the way?” she says of using the winning photos in the annual report, which is another new endeavor for the CVC.

“We really need good pictures, that’s what a yearbook needs. It’s to show the journey and the vision.” She envisions a coffee table style book in libraries and public buildings. See the Clean Valley Council website ( or Facebook page for more details on entering a photo by June 18. “Being creative, outside the box,” says Brenchick, looking at the valley as “a greener, cleaner [place].”

Brenchick says her ten year plan is to bring Clean Valley Council programs outside of the immediate area to other localities. CVC is already moving into Montgomery and Franklin Counties. As for the Riverfest, contestants will move down the Roanoke River in several heats on June 30. Prizes will be awarded for Most Seaworthy, Most Creative and fastest. Of course, they must all be made from recycled materials. Deschutes Brewing is sponsoring the event; at the adjoining Riverfest there will be live music and food for sale.

Then there is the Rubber Duck Race, where people can purchase small rubber ducks that are numbered on the bottom. They go into the river all at once and float a short way. It’s a fundraiser for Clean Valley Council and 5 other non-profits, including the Habitat Re-Store, Special Olympics, the Roanoke Community Garden Association and the Transitional Options for Women shelter. All of the participating non-profits are selling tickets for the Duck Race. The winning duck is then fished out of the river (with all of the others) by a boom at the end of the race.

Gene Marrano

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