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by Amanda Maron, Keep Grand Prairie Beautiful Coordinator

The Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge was founded in 2019 because Angel Carter was motivated to “do something” about the litter accumulation along her beloved walking trail. The 7.3-mile Fish Creek Linear Trail overlooks Fish Creek along the entire route while crossing the city boundary between Arlington and Grand Prairie, in north central Texas.

Angel walks the Fish Creek trail almost daily. These walks often turn into nature hikes as she goes off the paved trail down to the water’s edge. Here she enjoys watching birds, rabbits, bobcats, and beavers go about their lives. Overtime, the wildlife have come to accept her presence among them and no longer scamper away when she wanders nearby.

What bothered her the most was the obscene amounts of litter that cluttered the landscape. Plastic bottles had collected so densely in one area of the creek that they created “Bottle Island.” Tires and grocery carts created artificial dams, slowing the natural flow of the water.

Angel reported the litter through the AskArlington app. She was informed that the city simply did not have the resources to do an intensive cleanup of Fish Creek. Determined to do her part, she began filling a trash bag or two on her walks. After weeks of this, she realized that she needed help if she was ever going to get ahead of the problem.

Waterways can become heavily littered not just by illegal dumping into the waterway itself, but also by the movement of litter and debris through the watershed. If materials like bottles and cans find their way to the ground, they can easily be washed by rain or blown by wind into a storm drain or directly into a waterway.

Nearly 350 volunteers joined forces to remove litter and bulky debris from Fish Creek in Arlington over three days in January 2019. Angel’s “Heart was overflowing with joy to see so many people coming together to clean Fish Creek.” The success in Arlington led Angel to contact Keep Grand Prairie Beautiful, challenging us to join her for the 2020 Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge.

In January of 2023, Angel Carter brought together Arlington and Grand Prairie residents for the fifth annual Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge by joining forces with the City of Arlington Parks Department and the City of Grand Prairie Keep Grand Prairie Beautiful Program.

Moving within watersheds, instead of within city limits, 380 volunteers removed 3,600 pounds of litter from Fish Creek in 2023. This increases the lifetime numbers of the Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge to 2,626 volunteers removing over 65,820 pounds of litter from Fish Creek.

“The only way to stop littering is to change hearts. By changing one heart at a time, we can have meaningful progress over time,” said Angel as she tells how one volunteer shared that, “Participating in the Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge has given her the confidence to tell others that littering is not okay.”

The partnership and the event continues strong as Keep Grand Prairie Beautiful will celebrate the 6th annual Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge on Saturday, January 27, 2024. Information is available at

In addition to being the founder of the Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge, Angel also serves as the DFW platoon leader for The Mission Continues and an Operation Legacy Leader of the Travis Manion Foundation. Angel continues to serve her community as an active member of many environmental, community, and social improvement initiatives including Trinity River Trash Bash, Ferguson Road Initiative, Character Does Matter mentor, and Resident Artist of VetStarts with Warrior Arts. Angel also serves on the Praise Team, Church Board, and as a Church Trustee of Saint Andrews United Methodist Church in Arlington.

Angel Carter is a Harley-riding Marine who truly exemplifies service above self as a leader, embracing the Travis Manion Foundation motto, “If not me, then who.”

Angel Carter was the 2022 Winner of the O.P. Schnabel Volunteer of the Year Award. To nominate yourself or an “Angel” in your community for the 2023 Beautify Texas Awards, please visit Submissions are due by March 23, 2023.

Thanks to Amanda Maron, Keep Grand Prairie Beautiful Coordinator, of the Solid Waste and Recycling Department of the City of Grand Prairie, for nominating Angel Carter!