Big Cleanup

More Than A Ton Of Trash Removed
In 2017 Big Clinch River Cleanup

Volunteers stream out of the Museum of Appalachia after breakfast, picking up gloves, litter grabbers, water and snacks on their way to clean up the Clinch. (FH Oates photo)

Volunteers stream out of the Museum of Appalachia after breakfast, picking up gloves, litter grabbers, water and snacks on their way to clean up the Clinch. (FH Oates photo)

This year’s Big Clinch River Cleanup on Saturday, July 22, was an amazing success, says chairman Rusty Hallett of Norris. One hundred three people gave up their Saturday to clean the river and its banks in 95-degree weather—“we collected 71 bags of trash, 75 tires and nearly 2,200 pounds of trash total. WOW!”

Hallett said he was amazed at what was collected and hauled off, including an auto gas tank, a street sign with post, the front end of a Jeep and a child’s dental retainer.

Thanking the volunteers, Hallett said, “It is a good feeling to know that you have done something worthwhile while asking nothing in return except the satisfaction of making a small portion of the world better.

“The Clinch River is the reason my wife and I moved to Norris. We both enjoy the river, we fish, we kayak, we walk the Songbird Trail. The river has become a center point of my life—I am so grateful for people like you who are willing to help keep it beautiful!

“Most people think Trout Unlimited is a fishing club. Well, most of us do love to fish—but the main focus of TU is conservation. Our goal is to make rivers and lakes more sustainable and available for everyone to use. We are not only fishermen and fisherwomen, we are very much conservationists.”

Pictures from the cleanup are shown below. In addition, a Big Cleanup story from WBIR Channel 10 is available by clicking here.

The Big Clinch River Cleanup got its start in 2013, a communitywide expansion of river cleanups conducted by the Clinch River Chapter since the late 1990s. Chapter member Buzz Buffington said he started the cleanups after he heard someone call the Clinch the Tirehole River, a joking comparison to Wyoming’s Firehole River. “I was mortified, and that was the genesis of the cleanups.”

This year’s Big Cleanup was the fifth, starting as before with breakfast at the picturesque Museum of Appalachia (expenses of the meal are supported by a grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority). From there, volunteers set out in teams to attack debris along the Clinch. Above the water line, workers walked along riverside roads and through parking areas, gathering trash. In shallow water, volunteers wearing waders patrolled for litter. In kayaks and canoes, volunteers worked to clean shorelines and shallow water where there is no public access by road. Those in powerboats hauled tires and other items from the depths.

Support for all the teams was supplied by volunteering emergency medical people, ham radio operators, tire disposal professionals and workers with trucks who collected and disposed of filled trash bags.

Altogether, the volunteers hailed from 30 ZIP codes including Texas and California. Workers included a squad of Boy Scouts and a heartening number of families volunteering with their children.

The chapter is deeply grateful to all those individuals as well as to the sponsors who helped make it possible, including Anderson County Solid Waste, area ham radio operators, Holm Construction, Bingham Tire of Clinton, Keep Anderson County Beautiful, Museum of Appalachia, Steve and Kathy Stout, Tennessee Valley Authority and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

For scenes from the 2017 cleanup, please look through the photos below—and to see a story from WBIR Channel 10, click here.