Volunteers Remove 6.6 Tons Of Trash From 4 Rivers In Cherokee National Forest River Cleanup Series

  • Wednesday, September 20, 2023
A collective 66 volunteers removed 13,137 lbs. of trash from four different rivers in Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful’s third annual Cherokee National Forest River Cleanup Series presented by Oris Watches. Since the series began in 2001, a total of 166 volunteers have helped to remove 44,870 lbs. of trash from waterways in the Cherokee National Forest.

The most recent series total has the river cleanup nonprofit staged to surpass its record-breaking year in 2021, in which more than 700 volunteers removed over 152,000 lbs.
of trash. So far in 2023, the group has already rallied 725 volunteers to remove 149,320 lbs. of trash from the Tennessee River watershed.

Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful established the Cherokee National Forest River Cleanup Series to help preserve lakes in the Tennessee’s largest tract of public land, showcasing the vastness of the forest by hosting river cleanups spanning from South Holston Lake in Abingdon, Va. to Parksville Lake near Chattanooga.

“The lakes within the Cherokee National Forest are some of the most stunning among the bodies of water in within the Tennessee River watershed and it’s always a privilege to showcase their stunning beauty as well as the need to address litter that has entered their waterways,” said Kathleen Gibi, KTNRB executive director. “We’re so grateful to Oris, additional sponsors and partners, and especially the volunteers for making this series such as success.”

KTNRB hosted four river cleanups in February and a rainchecked cleanup wrapping up the series on Sunday, Sept. 10, collaborating with local Keep America Beautiful affiliates and local governments:

Feb. 5 Watauga Lake of the Watauga River Elizabethton, Tn. 4,616 lbs. 24 volunteers
Feb. 19 Tellico Lake of the Little Tennessee River Vonore, Tn. 5,509 lbs. 29 volunteers
Feb. 26 Parksville Lake of the Ocoee River Benton, Tn. 1,462 lbs. 6 volunteers
Sept. 10 South Holston Lake on the Holston River Abingdon, Va. 2,004 lbs. 7 volunteers
13,137 lbs. 66 volunteers

The 66 volunteers had other harrowing statistics from their efforts, including a total of 369 bags of trash and 32 tires removed.

“Oris was thrilled to partner with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful for four cleanup events throughout 2023,” said V.J. Geronimo, Oris CEO – The Americas. “Working with dedicated volunteers and Oris enthusiasts to clean up nearly five tons of trash was enriching and most of all, impactful. Looking forward to continuing our collaboration as part of our Change For The Better program.”

This year’s series was also boosted with help from staff from Allegheny CleanWays, a nonprofit that hosts river cleanup efforts on the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania. The organization’s Capt. Evan Clark drove KTNRB’s second 26-foot boat at the cleanups held on Watauga and Tellico lakes to accommodate the larger group of volunteers.

Additional partners like Keep Cleveland & Bradley County Beautiful, Keep Carter County Beautiful, Keep Jonesborough Beautiful, and Keep Southwest Virginia Beautiful all played a huge role in organizational details, recruiting, and participation. Monroe County Government, Waste Connections of Tennessee – Cleveland Hauling, Carter County Solid Waste, and Budget Dumpster all donated dumpster services for the trash to be hauled away from each cleanup.

The series was largely made possible by funding received from the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee Dept. of Transportation’s ‘Nobody Trashes Tennessee’ litter campaign.

KTNRB plans to host its fourth annual Cherokee National Forest River Cleanup Series in 2024. For more information about KTNRB’s schedule, please visit www.KeepTNRiverBeautiful.org/upcomingcleanups.
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