On Saturday, April 6th, 45 adults, teens, and children gave up their Saturday morning to help clean up the Elk River Canoe & Kayak Trail, a National Recreation Trail in Limestone County.
When everyone stopped to enjoy a pizza lunch, we looked at the piles of trash and debris that had been pulled from the water and dragged from the woods. It was truly disheartening. Ben Harrison, District 4 Commissioner, and volunteers loaded what they could in the litter trailer and hauled it to the transfer station. After loading the trailer a second time, it was learned that the trash weighed in at 4,800 lbs. That did not include a pile of roofing shingles, a refrigerator, and a set of mattresses that hadn’t been weighed yet.
I fail to understand the mentality of people who think of our woodlands as a place to dump their trash. I wish I knew how to reason with someone who breaks up camp and leaves all of their garbage behind.
But before we point to boaters and fishermen for the litter problem, let’s look at the fact that 80-90% of the trash that ends up in our rivers starts out on land far from the water. Something tossed from a vehicle or blown out of an uncovered truck miles away will be carried by wind, rain water, and animals until it can move no further. That might mean it gets stuck on a fence line, tangled in weeds, or it could mean washing into ditches, to streams, to the river, and all the way out to the Gulf. There are no doubt plastic bottles and bags floating in the Elk River today that started out in our neighborhoods just weeks ago.
I thank every person that came out to help, TVA for providing a boat and staff, Ben Harrison for handling the trash for us, Nestle Cafe for providing the wonderful cookies, Nestle Waters for the refreshment, and the Limestone County Tourism Association for providing pizzas for our volunteers.
Together we made a huge difference; however, we all need to take responsibility for this beautiful resource by reporting illegal dumping, encouraging responsible behavior in handling trash, and volunteering to help remove what is carelessly left behind by irresponsible people. KALB will always provide supplies to any group willing to organize a litter cleanup. Just give us a call!
By: Lynne Hart