Big Cleanup


Paddle vessels vanish in the early morning Clinch mist, on their way to collect trash. (FH Oates photo)

Paddle vessels vanish in the early morning Clinch mist, on their way to collect trash. (FH Oates photo)

Love The Clinch River?
Sign Up For Big Clinch River Cleanup!

Registration is open now for everyone who wants to help with the fifth annual Big Clinch River Cleanup on Saturday, July 22. It starts at 8 a.m. with breakfast at the scenic Museum of Appalachia, 2819 Andersonville Highway, Norris. The cleanup will wrap up about 2 p.m.

Everyone who enjoys the river, from anglers to kayakers to wildlife watchers, is invited to help remove litter from the Clinch and its banks. The communitywide cleanup is an expansion of annual pickups run for many years by members of the Clinch River Chapter, Trout Unlimited, which hosts the event. Last year, 110 volunteers from 34 ZIP codes gathered tires and trash from the river.

Volunteers work in a variety of ways:
* Above the water line, workers walk along riverside roads and through parking areas, gathering trash.
* Volunteers wearing waders patrol for litter in shallow water.
* In kayaks and canoes, volunteers work to clean shorelines and shallow water where there is no public access by road.
* In powerboats, volunteers haul tires and other items from the depths.

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

This year, the first 100 volunteers to register will qualify for a free full breakfast at the picturesque museum (expenses of the meal are supported by a grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority). To sign up, please click here. For more information, contact Rusty Hallett at or (859) 227-1227, or Dave Easter at or (859) 608-7090. The event will be held rain or shine (in case of severe weather, the breakfast will be held but volunteers will stay on shore).

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. Organizer 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.”

For scenes from the 2016 cleanup, please look through the photos below—and to see a story and video from the Knoxville News Sentinel, click here.