It all begins upstream

Community Fitness|July 19, 2023

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My husband and I recently downsized and moved to Frederick, Maryland.  Aside from the long commute to Franklin county every day, I am very happy in our new home.  We are actually renting a townhouse which is directly accessible to a trail along the Monocacy River.  I walk there with my dog Oskar, every day.  It is a place where everyone comes together to walk, run, bike, photograph birds and wildlife, and swim.  On these recent hot days, it is not uncommon to see people setting up stoves and picnics, spending the entire day along the river.  Unfortunately, some people leave their trash, including broken bottles, on the shoreline.  This makes it unsanitary and dangerous for those who want to enjoy nature, and for the wildlife-fish, herons, turtles, and dogs.  Cleaning up and caring for our oceans begins with our internal waterways. In a recent New York Times editorial by Boyan Slat, he talks about the importance of our rivers and streams for mitigating pollution in the ocean. It also reminds me of the importance of our work to improve the health of Johnston Run.

Most towns and cities in the United States, were built around water, and Mercersburg was no exception. Johnston Run, was foundational to the town’s growth.  Today, there are many people who are surprised there is water flowing right through town.  At the Council for Wellness, we have decided to use Johnston Run and the Waterside Trail as the starting point to building a community to support optimal health.

We are fortunate to have worked with many volunteers, led by Will Willis, who have spent years studying the health of the stream in conjunction with the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM).  Led by Dr. Elizabeth George’s vision for a healthier environment, the Johnston Waterside Trail off of Oregon Street was completed and over the past several years through the hard work of many volunteers, has become a habitat for returning wildlife and native plant species.  People use the trail to walk their dogs, meet friends, and as a space to meditate and read.

The Council for Wellness needs the support of our community to continue the work we have begun.  Please find time to use the trail and rally support for connecting it to the town on the western end, around the circle.  Donate time to cleaning the trail and picking up any plastic and other trash you see in town that could end up in our waterways.  Support local farms and farmers to maintain our agricultural land.  Become an activist and make a commitment to becoming a steward of the beautiful, natural resources we have, so that future generations will have the benefits of a walkable/bikeable, healthy community.