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Volunteers show up big for creek cleanup

Jana Plemmons (left) and Les Taylor collect trash along Richland Creek and Shelton Branch. HWA photo Jana Plemmons (left) and Les Taylor collect trash along Richland Creek and Shelton Branch. HWA photo

Haywood Waterways Association saw its biggest group of litter pickup volunteers ever when 22 people showed up July 11 to help remove 500 pounds of trash from Richland Creek along the Waynesville Recreation Park greenway trail and Howell Mill Road. 

It was the largest group of volunteers since the stream cleanups started in 2009. Much of the trash was plastic bottles, plastic bags, Styrofoam and aluminum cans, but larger items, including a shopping cart and two car tires, were also removed. 

“I was surprised to see so many cigarette butts,” said Renée Lenz, a Haywood Waterways volunteer. “I just don’t understand why more people can’t put trash where it belongs, in the trash can.”

Most trash found in streams travels with rain through storm drain systems, where it is dumped in the nearest waterway, untreated and unfiltered. Haywood Waterways started the Adopt-A-Stream program in 2009 to address litter issues. Since then, over 1,700 volunteers have removed 29 tons of trash from Haywood County streams. 

To join the Adopt-A-Stream program, which allows individuals and organizations to take responsibility for cleaning litter from individual stream sections, contact Christine O’Brien at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 828.476.4667, ext. 11. Grants from the Tennessee Valley Authority and Town of Waynesville supported the cleanup.