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COVID-19 fears shut down BRCA spring cleanup

Wm. Shawn Weigel * Delaware
shawn.weigel@doverpost.com
The Community News

Just days after announcing that they would carry on with their plans, the Brandywine Red Clay Association has cancelled their 31st annual spring cleanup.

Originally scheduled for Saturday, March 28, a Monday, March 16 statement from BRCA Director of Development and Marketing Dana Looker said the event is off the calendar.

Looker added that a press release would be issued should the event be rescheduled.

Since its start in the late 1980s, volunteers for the nonprofit environmental agency have removed over 300 tons of trash from Delaware and Pennsylvania’s roadways and river banks.

BRCA Executive Director Jim Jordan said he made the decision late Saturday night, following the “constantly evolving” COVID-19 pandemic.

“We took a wait-and-see attitude, hoping things would get better,” Jordan said. “Instead, things went south. In the grand scheme of things, keeping everybody safe – our volunteers, our staff members, and the greater community – is more important that the cleanup.”

Despite being a largely outdoors event, with groups meeting at the Ashland Nature Center in Hockessin (and at two locations in Kennett Square, Pa.) long enough to grab gloves, vests, a route assignment, and some hot coffee and doughnuts, Jordan said there is still a risk.

“There is still some face-to-face contact, so it would be hard to maintain social distancing,” Jordan said.

He added that he had considered a number of scenarios before calling the cleanup off, including having volunteers not register and picking up their own supplies at the Ashland Center.

“The small risk was too great,” Jordan said, adding that this is the first time in its history that the event has been cancelled.

“We’ve had to reschedule it before, during a blizzard maybe three years ago,” Jordan said. “But otherwise it’s been on, rain or shine. We are in uncharted waters here.”

Growing every year as new routes are added, the 2020 cleanup would have also brought volunteers to downtown Hockessin – where Jordan calls home – for the first time.

With regard to rescheduling the 2020 cleanup, Jordan said the ever-changing situation makes it impossible to pull off at the moment.

“Everything is in such flux right now,” he said.

Jordan said that while their offices in Pocopson Township outside West Chester in Pennsylvania are closed, the 318-acres at the Myrick Center and its trails are open for use.

“It’s important during this crisis for people to get out, and do it safely,” Jordan said. “I thought this would be a good way for people to do that.”

The Myrick Center is located at 1760 Unionville Wawaset Rd, West Chester, Pa.