NORRIS—Despite thunderstorms that muddied the water and soaked, hardworking volunteers on Saturday, July 20, the first-ever Big Clinch River Cleanup was a big success, says Buzz Buffington of Anderson County, who organized the event.
The Clinch River Chapter of Trout Unlimited sponsored the community-wide cleanup. The turnout of volunteers—far more than the chapter had dared to expect—included 78 people and 15 boats.
In spite of the turbidity that limited visibility, volunteers retrieved about 70 tires from the water and collected two pickup truckloads of other trash from the river and its banks. The finale for Big Cleanup was another boisterous thunderstorm, descending as the last boaters landed in early afternoon.
“One thing we couldn’t control was the weather,” Buffington says. “On the other hand, we met a lot of great people, and we didn’t lose anybody.”
Plus, they removed a lot of trash.
Members of the Clinch River Chapter have been conducting river cleanups since 2000, collecting tons of trash and more than 6,800 tires over the years.
Cooperating in the first Big Cleanup were canoeists, kayakers, anglers and professional fishing guides headed by Mike Bone of Andersonville www.theriverjournal.com.
Reinforcements also arrived from the Little River and Great Smoky Mountains chapters of Trout Unlimited.
The volunteers hailed not only from nearby communities including Norris, Clinton, Oak Ridge, Lake City, Jacksboro and LaFollette, but also from Knoxville, Loudon, Maynardville, New Market, Memphis and even other states including Mississippi, Texas and South Carolina.
Bingham Tire of Clinton trucked away the tires; Tennessee Valley Authority kept the river level low and provided a boat and volunteers, as did the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
The 3 Rivers Angler fly shop in Knoxville hosted a charity event that publicized the cleanup and raised money supporting it. Museum of Appalachia supplied a beautiful setting for the kickoff breakfast hosted by Clinch River Chapter.
Alex Taylor and Christopher Steepleton saw to the fabrication of grappling hooks for deepwater tire retrieval and further help was provided by Little River Outfitters in Townsend, Keep Anderson County Beautiful and the Anderson County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Buffington has already told participants, “If you all are up for it, we’ll do this again next year.”