RiverLink – WNC Comes Together at Big Sweep 2017

By Justin Young

Water quality is an issue that impacts everyone, from impaired drinking sources to degradation of some of our favorite recreation spots and ecosystems. No one likes to float down the river only to see cans, tires and Styrofoam as they go. Luckily, Western North Carolina is filled with passionate individuals and organizations dedicated to reducing our impact on these waterways. For the past 29 years, these people have all come together once a year for WNC’s Big Sweep event, the largest single day river cleanup in the region. This year the event was held on September 9th and saw over 150 people cleaning over 25 miles of streams and rivers!

Many organizations came together to coordinate the event, including Asheville GreenWorks, RiverLink, MountainTrue, Mills River Partnership, and the Green Riverkeeper. Cleanup efforts were focused in Henderson County near Westfeldt Park with a few offshoots in Brevard and on the green river. The event welcomed some truly fantastic volunteers who pulled over 50 tires out of the river and over 3,500 pounds of trash including chainsaws, old TV’s and street signs. Thanks to the event sponsors; Asheville Outdoor Center, Zen Tubing and Sierra Nevada, Big Sweep was able to provide more boats this year, shuttling for volunteers and free beer for everyone who participated.

River cleanups always leave participants feeling positive and empowered, but this event takes it a step further. To see so many constituents and lovers of the river come together and celebrate our water resources through service is a spectacular sight. Big Sweep will only continue to grow in the coming years with the hope of spreading empowerment and an appreciation for the river to as much of WNC as possible. We look forward to seeing more excited and dedicated volunteers at next year’s event!

Justin Young is the Program Manager at Riverlink. For more information about Riverlink and their programs, visit: riverlink.org