Newest litter gitter in Pinson does more than pick up trash, it builds community

Litter Gitter
Charline Whyte, conservationist from Clay, Alabama (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

For Charline Whyte, the latest installation of a litter gitter on Beaver Creek at Bicentennial Park in Pinson, Alabama gave her goosebumps.

For years, Charline, her twin sister Catherine Whyte and fellow volunteer David Randolph have religiously picked up litter along the banks of Beaver Creek and Turkey Creek. Their efforts, which also included organizing roadside litter cleanups, was recognized by Governor Kay Ivey.

In response to the honor bestowed by the Governor, the Jefferson County Commission held a ceremony to thank the three conservationists for their service. It was then that Charline approached her commissioner, Joe Knight, to find a permanent solution. 

They came up with a starting point—the installation of a litter gitter in Pinson.


“This is truly coming straight from my heart, Charline told Bham Now at the installation event. “As a volunteer and environmental steward—and seeing how the commissioner (Joe Knight)  cares about the watershed and seeing so many people coming together to improve our water and make sure that Alabama stays beautiful… I’m getting goosebumps acknowledging that we together can make a difference.”

And this week, they did make a difference with the first installation of a litter gitter Turkey Creek watershed. The Jefferson County Commission is sponsoring the device for one year.

Led by the Freshwater Land Trust

Litter Gitter
Litter Gitter in Beaver Creek (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

What is a litter gitter?

Shaped like one of those small spaceships from an episode of Star Trek, litter gitters are in-stream trash collection devices used to intercept floating trash from stormwater runoff. 

For the past few years, the Freshwater Land Trust (FLT) has led a coordinated partnership effort called “Project Litter Gitter” to reduce litter in Central Alabama by installing litter gitters in local waterways. Alabama-based company Osprey Initiative installs and maintains the devices, removes trash, shares inventory data from the devices and recycles as much collected litter as possible.

23,000 pounds

Since the first litter gitter was installed in December 2019, over 23,000 pounds of litter— primarily Styrofoam and plastic bottles—have been removed from Central Alabama as a direct result of Project Litter Gitter. 

“We hope these litter gitters serve as a reminder to people that everything they drop on the ground ends up in our waterways and, ultimately, in the Gulf of Mexico. While we are thrilled with Project Litter Gitter’s success, including the addition of the first trash collection device in Turkey Creek, we look forward to the day when these devices are no longer needed,” said Rusha Smith, Executive Director of Freshwater Land Trust.

Where are they located

Litter Gitter
Osprey’s Don Bates, Freshwater Land Trust Rusha Smith, Jeff Commissioner Joe Knight and Charline Whyte (Freshwater Land Trust)

Litter gitters are located throughout Jefferson County. Here is where they can be found:

  • Valley Creek and Village Creek in Birmingham
  • Five Mile Creek in Tarrant
  • Griffin Brook and Shades Creek in Homewood
  • Pinchgut Creek in Trussville.

Project partners include: Black Warrior Riverkeeper; Cahaba Riverkeeper; Osprey Initiative, LLC; Jefferson County Department of Health; Jefferson County Conservation District; Litter Quitters; Village Creek Society; River Network; Birmingham Coca-Cola UNITED; ABC Coke (a division of Drummond Company); Wells Fargo; and the Cities of Alabaster, Bessemer, Birmingham, Brighton, Homewood, Tarrant, Trussville, and Vestavia Hills.

“We shouldn’t have to do these things,” said Commissioner Knight at the installation of the Pinson litter gitter.  “But there is trash that gets into our rivers and creeks — and it contaminates all the way down to the coast. We’re going to try to get as much trash out  as we can. This is one (litter gitter) of many in the county. We’re proud to be a part of this program, to protect this waterway.”

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Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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