Volunteers help clean the French Broad River as part of last year's Big Sweep. Photo courtesy of RiverLink.

From RiverLink, shared Sept. 19:

Volunteers help clean the French Broad River as part of last year’s Big Sweep. Photo courtesy of RiverLink.

ASHEVILLE — North Carolina Big Sweep, the annual statewide cleanup of waterways around North Carolina, takes place on Sat., Oct. 1, from at 9 a.m.-1 p.m. this year. Cleanup efforts will take place on the French Broad River using canoes from the Asheville Outdoor Center to Jean Webb Park in the River Arts District. Other groups will clean trash from Carrier Park and along the roadways in the area.

Two local environmental non-profits are spearheading the cleanup efforts. RiverLink is organizing the floating cleanup, while Asheville GreenWorks will lead groups on area roadsides. Dave Donnell of the Asheville Outdoor Center has graciously offered to host the cleanup orientation and lend canoes for volunteers to use to pick up trash in the water, and 1-800-Got-Junk is picking up collected trash.

North Carolina Big Sweep, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that plans and coordinates the statewide Big Sweep. North Carolina Big Sweep was founded as Beach Sweep in 1987 by Dr. Lundie Spence of the North Carolina Sea Grant College Program. In 1989, the public-private partnership officially became Big Sweep, the nation’s first statewide waterway cleanup. Since its founding, North Carolina Big Sweep has had almost 290,000 volunteers and collected over 9.8 million pounds of trash from our environment in North Carolina.

“This cleanup is really important in North Carolina, because litter hurts our local economies, especially tourism and new business recruitment,” said Chip Dodd, Big Sweep NC chairman. “Litter also contaminates our water supply and endangers people and wildlife.”

Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. at the Asheville Outdoor Center located at 521 Amboy Road for cleanup orientation, receive cleanup supplies and then divide into teams to clean up the French Broad River.

“Big Sweep a great chance to get out on the river, meet some like-minded folks and help improve our most valuable resource — so come and help,” requests Karen Cragnolin, executive director of RiverLink.

For more information, contact Dave Russell at RiverLink by phone at 252-8474, Ext. 11, or e-mail dave@riverlink.org.

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Kathleen O'Nan is a contributing reporter to Carolina Public Press.

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