Indiana Teams Help Clean Riverbanks

Students from Bethany Christian School in Goshen, Ind., put a big dent in the litter problem along about 50 yards of riverbank in Letcher County.
A group of 12 students and two chaperones visited Letcher County this week to learn about coal mining issues in Appalachia. The school sends a group here each year as guests of the Mennonite Central Committee, the Appalachian office for which is in Whitesburg. Each year, students volunteer to do a stream cleanup.
I spent about 20 minutes Monday morning talking to them about history, pollution and the economy in our area, then led them on a one-mile hike along part of the trail system The Head of Three Rivers Project is working to build. At the end of the hike, the whole crew grabbed bags and gloves provided by the Letcher County School District and began picking up trash along the North Fork of the Kentucky River.
The Head of Three Rivers Project identified the location during a canoe survey around the end of March. The survey was intended to tell us what we’re facing in the creation of a river trail for kayaking, canoeing, and wade fishing.
The cleanup on Monday moves us a little closer to having that river trail. Among the items found were two shopping carts, parts of a wheelbarrow, part of a vacuum cleaner and a long piece of steel attached to some sort of machinery. The biggest item tackled, by far, was a dump truck tire, still attached to the steel rim and filled with water. It took about six students, a college professor and me to roll the tire up the steep, muddy river bank and into the level, but we did it.
I want to publicly thank the group for their work. There seems to be less garbage in the river now than there used to be, and if we can remove the garbage that has been there for years it might stay clean. A few more cleanups like this, and we’ll have a river trail that tourists and locals alike will be happy to use.

Posted by Sam

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