We refer to the annual Hiwassee River Cleanup Day on Saturday whose team of volunteers will be asked to work about three hours — from 9 a.m. to noon — helping to pick up trash whose buildup over the past year is now creating an eyesore, and a water hazard, along the majestic river’s banks and surrounding areas, as well as in the scenic waterway itself.
Bo Reynolds, biological technician with the Hiwassee State Park, recently told our newspaper, “The trash pollutes not only our eyes, but the waterways themselves.”
Here’s how the annual cleanup works.
Volunteers will be given four to five trash bags. They will then be separated into various groups whose task will be to tackle area cleanup like Highway 30, Spring Creek Road, Upper Hiwassee River, the Forest Service road and others.
Massive amounts of debris and trash often are collected from the river shore. Over the course of a year, these areas receive a substantial buildup of discarded materials. According to Terry McDonald, U.S. Forest Service public affairs staff officer, this year is no exception.
Saturday’s weather could be a little wet based on forecasts, but Cleanup Day planners believe the inclement conditions won’t be severe enough to force a rescheduling of the event. Besides, the sooner the annual cleanup is completed, the less impact the year’s worth of discarded litter will have on those who benefit from the Hiwassee River’s natural beauty and its countless opportunities for recreation.
Each year, the river’s Cleanup Day attracts about 30 volunteers; however, event planners report as many as 60 would be optimal for effective trash removal. The project not only puts litter where it belongs — the landfill — it also supports the river’s fragile water system.
Those planning to volunteer their time — whether from Bradley, Polk, McMinn or other counties — are encouraged to bring long-sleeved shirts, thick leather gloves, safety glasses and boots or sturdy shoes. Heavy, durable footwear is important because volunteers may be walking along banks and through dense brush.
Area residents who want to participate as individuals, or as members of a group, should plan to meet at the Ocoee/Hiwassee State Park Office at 9 a.m. The office is located on Spring Creek Road just north of the Hiwassee River and east of Highway 411. The turnoff from Highway 14 is signed and is approximately six miles north of Benton and five miles south of Etowah.
Hiwassee River Cleanup Day is sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, Tennessee State Parks, TVA and Trout Unlimited. Once Saturday’s work is completed, a lunch will be provided to volunteers. It will come in the form of a cookout at the Hiwassee picnic area.
Who would be an excellent volunteer for this initiative?
It’s simple: Anyone who believes our environment is worth protecting; anyone who cherishes family recreation on one of the Southeast’s most beautiful rivers; a civic organization that is looking for a service project that is people-friendly and whose impact is immediate; a church youth group looking for ways to make a difference in the company of peers; a business wanting to engage its employees in community service; and anyone — man, woman or child — who wants to send a message of hope to any, and to all, who reside upon our Planet Earth.
Great causes are made even greater by the big hearts of great people.
Hiwassee River Cleanup Day is one such cause.