Raleigh trash trap cleanout reveals urban wildlife

Environmental, Litter-Free Rivers, Neuse River Watershed, Sound Rivers, Volunteer, Volunteers, Water Quality

Posted on February 22nd, 2024

After cleaning out the trash tap, students waded through the creek, picking up trash from its banks.

Sound Rivers Volunteer Coordinator Emily Fritz and members of the Neighborhood Ecology Corps got a glimpse of urban wildlife during Tuesday’s trash trap cleanout.

The Raleigh trash trap is located on Little Rock Creek, running through the grounds of the Walnut Creek Wetland Center. While every trash trap cleanout results in some interesting items, the bird’s nest constructed beneath the pedestrian bridge over the creek and many paw prints along the shore of the creek were the unique finds at this cleanout, and evidence of nature thriving in an urban setting.

“It was such a fun experience to explore the creek with the students and get to see some of the wildlife that live there,” Emily said. “We removed 25 pounds of trash from the creek in just 25 minutes, and the students loved getting to stomp around the creek in their waders.” The Neighborhood Ecology Corps is a program for middle and high school students focused on building environmentally literate citizens with a holistic view of their communities through hands-on experiences, according to the City of Raleigh website. Learn more about the Neighborhood Ecology Corps here.

A bird’s nest beneath the pedestrian bridge was one unique find at the trash trap cleanout.

The Little Rock Creek trash trap is the fourth installed through Sound Rivers’ Litter-Free Rivers program. The passive litter-collection devices can also be found on Jack’s Creek in Washington, Duffyfield Canal in New Bern and Adkin Branch in Kinston. Two additional Raleigh trash traps are in the works, courtesy of a partnership between Sound Rivers, the City of Raleigh and The Great Raleigh Cleanup, as well as one on a Tar River tributary in Greenville, thanks to a Sound Rivers partnership with the City of Greenville.

Paw prints along the shoreline were spotted by the Neighborhood Ecology Corps crew.

Interested in volunteering for a trash trap cleanout? Email Emily at

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